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‘I hate losing a lot more than I like winning’ - Ryan Hall talks post-fight shrugs, volatility of MMA

The grappling ace and UFC featherweight has carved out a career as one of the promotion’s most unusual talents.

MMA is home to plenty of odd personalities and unconventional talents. But, few fighters are as unusual to in their approach to combat itself as longtime grappling ace and featherweight UFC talent Ryan Hall.

And it’s not just down to his Imanari rolls and leg lock prowess, MMA has seen its fair share of exciting guard grapplers. It’s also baked into a striking style that’s largely based around defensive movement, distance maintenance, and a regular output of creative kicks. Fighters that face Hall inside the Octagon often find themselves with a puzzle to solve that runs against the meta of the sport at large.

When Hall wins, it can feel like he’s done so by breaking down the ability for his opponent to have a fight with him at all. He forces foes into aggressive pursuit, only to spring on them with a thrilling submission attempt when their aggression gets too wild. And when it all works (as it often has) he follows up those moments of victory with a shrug to the camera.

In a recent interview with the MMA Hour, Hall explained his trademark post-fight celebration. One he says is a nod both to the chaotic and unpredictable nature of MMA, and to the fact that, as far as he’s concerned, winning isn’t nearly as important as not losing.

“Ah, well, that happened,” Hall elucidated (transcript via MMA Fighting). “You can win, and you can lose. Every single fight that I ever won, I could have lost.”

“I would say I’ve had times in fights where I’ve been lucky,” Hall added, after talking about what he felt were a few “lucky” turns for Ilia Topuria in the Georgian fighter’s recent victory over Hall. “You step this way instead of that way, and I’ve gotten good outcomes and I’ve gotten bad outcomes. ... So I guess what I would say is I’m here to learn, I’m here for the challenge, I’m here to fight with everything that I have and face the best opposition that I can. I just need to get the experience and need to keep pushing forward.”

“But win, lose, or draw, I will push forward,” he said. “I recognize the volatility of the game; I recognize the seriousness of the game. When you win, you’re like [shrugs].

“I hate losing a lot more than I like winning.”