TUF fans have been waiting (and waiting) for Hall to unlock his potential inside the Octagon.
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Uriah Hall was talking to a friend recently and the conversation was enlightening. The message: Why are you trying to be something you’re not?
"He said, ‘You’re not a wrestler, you’re not a grappler — you punch people in the face’," Hall told FOX Sports. "I got so caught up in getting better in those aspects, I almost forgot that."
Hall should put his buddy on speed dial, because that’s pretty solid advice.
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The New York native didn’t become an overnight sensation on "The Ultimate Fighter" earlier this year because of his slick submissions or relentless takedowns. People were calling for Hall to get a UFC title shot at middleweight, because of his freakish power – like when he almost knocked Adam Cella’s head clean off with a spinning back kick.
They will get to you — people will get to you. I understand why Kanye started punching people.
"You have this gift given to you and I didn’t accept this gift I had," Hall said. "I’m going back to some of my roots."
Hall, 29, needed to make some adjustments, because his fight against Chris Leben at UFC 168 on Dec. 28 in Las Vegas very well could be his last in the organization. UFC president Dana White has intimated it, saying Hall will be "leaving town" unless he gets a win. And Hall isn’t in denial about it all.
"It’s business," he said. "What can you do? Does it put pressure on me? No, not really. I feel like I’ve done a lot and maybe in the past couple of fights I haven’t done enough. I’m just moving forward."
Hall was under the UFC umbrella for all of four months and had already run the gamut of fans’ emotions. He went very quickly from most touted prospect to ever appear on "The Ultimate Fighter" back in the spring to falling in the final to Kelvin Gastelum and being raked over the coals. The noise got louder after he lost to John Howard in August in another uncharacteristic performance.
"He’s not a fighter, man," White said after that fight.
Ouch. One of the worst things you could ever hear from your boss is that you don’t belong in the industry in which you’re employed. Hall said it didn’t deter him. He understands that White is "a businessman" and doesn’t fault him for anything he’s said.
That doesn’t mean he agrees with him either. Hall paints this past year as a whirlwind. He went from being the apple of the fans’ eye to being ripped to shreds on social media on the regular. It’s taught him a valuable lesson.
"I know who my fans really are – my friends and my family," Hall said. "I used to feel bad about it. They will get to you — people will get to you. I understand why Kanye started punching people. It gets to you."
Then there was the bizarre near fight with former UFC fighter Jason "Mayhem" Miller, which Hall said the press blew out of proportion. He wasn’t too happy that Miller called him a racist slur, but Hall admits he was "over it the next day."
"That’s perfect, because he doesn’t move his head," Hall said. "It’s a great target."
Everything is different now for Hall. He made the move from New York City to California to train at Mark Munoz’s Reign MMA. The expectations are subdued. The noise has quieted down. There’s just one thing left for him to do – get back to being himself.
"It’s definitely a new Uriah," Hall said. "I’m excited about this fight."