Uriah Hall tries to maintain his composure before every fight, even in the face of an intense rivalry like the one he shared with Derek Brunson.
The two middleweights had sniped back and forth at each other through social media and interviews for months leading up to their showdown in September and Hall wanted nothing more than to silence Brunson once they stepped into the cage together.
Less than two minutes into the fight, Hall was on the floor with the referee hovering over top of him saying the fight was over. While Hall still doesn't agree with the stoppage, there was no way around the loss after it happened and it was a bitter pill to swallow.
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“You win a fight, you feel good. You lose a fight, you question yourself,” Hall told FOX Sports this week from Ireland. “After that last fight, knowing what I know that I was fine, I mean you get dropped in a fight. I got dropped but I remember not getting hit. Even watching the tape, I didn't get hit. It's a fight I would love to get again because I trained so long and so hard for that fight and for it to end so quick it's like 'are you kidding me?'.”
A wave of emotions washed over Hall as he went backstage and he couldn't help but vent his frustrations after such a personal feud with Brunson boiled over into the fight.
“Going backstage, I was kicking stuff and I cried because I was so angry that I didn't do what I wanted to do,” Hall said. “I was scared, I was nervous but for the first time I went out there and said 'you know what, I'm going to really get this guy'. For it to come up so short, was a very disappointing time.”
Afterwards, Hall admits that there was a part of him that just wanted to quit and walk away from the sport forever. He was mired in a funk just after the fight happened, but Hall says thanks to the people closest to him, they wouldn’t allow him to stay down in the dumps, stewing over the loss.
“You sit in this funk, you get depressed, and I even wanted to quit,” Hall said. “My little brother talked me out of it in his own way. You've just got to learn to stay on track because it's so easy to quit. It really is easy to just quit.
“It's the hardest thing to do to persevere and work hard and work for it because things are going to get in the way. People are going to get in the way. Your own self is going to get in the way. People say get through it, just bite down but without the right encouragement, it's not easy. The model that I've learned since I'm a kid is to never quit.”
Gaining some perspective after the fight, Hall learned what it meant to learn something from a loss because that particular defeat affected him more than any other during his career. It also ultimately made him stronger because Hall says he came away a better person and a better martial artist because he had to suffer through that and find a way to come out on the other side.
“You learn nothing from your wins, but you learn a lot from your defeats,” Hall said. “It's picking up the pieces and having the courage and the strength in that sickening sad moment to go back to the drawing board.”
Rather than sitting around and waiting for a fight to happen in 2017, the UFC called Hall on short notice and asked if he would face Gegard Mousasi in a main event bout this weekend in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Hall actually knocked out Mousasi last year in what is considered the biggest win of his UFC career after landing a spectacular spinning back kick that floored the veteran middleweight.
With that kind of flashy victory, it's nearly impossible for Hall to duplicate that kind of performance a second time so why accept a rematch with Mousasi knowing that it probably can't get any better than what happened the last time?
“You don't want to play it too safe in life. You've got to take risks, depending on the outcome how you took it is a big thing. You don’t want to say “I could have”. I hesitated a little bit but in any big risk, you're going to think a little bit before you leap,” Hall explained.
“The first time it happened, it was a really cool experience. Going into this fight knowing Gegard wants revenge, he looks past the first fight to say it was a fluke. I mean I could look at my last fight and say it was a fluke too. He's highly motivated so that gives him an edge. He's close to his hometown so that gives him more edge. For me, I'm the underdog and I play that role well. That's when the best comes out of me.”
In a strange way, Hall actually appreciates Mousasi accepting this fight on short notice as well because it's giving him the chance to show off how much he's learned since that last loss to Brunson.
“I want to thank him for the opportunity,” Hall said about Mousasi. “Because they keep throwing hard (expletive) at me and I just persevere through it.”