Last night (Sat., July 5, 2014) Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweights Uriah Hall and Thiago Santos went to war on the main card of UFC 175 from Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada (full results here).
After demolishing opponents with highlight reel finishes all throughout The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 17, the enigmatic Hall disappointed many by losing a split decision to Kelvin Gastelum at the show's Finale, following it up with a lackluster decision loss to John Howard at UFC Fight Night 26.
"Prime Time" rebounded with a stoppage victory over fading veteran Chris Leben at UFC 168, but he still had lots to prove against Santos, who made his United States debut after finishing Ronny Markes with a beautiful body kick at UFC Fight Night 38 in late March.
Given the striking power of both fighters, the potential for fireworks was there. When the dust settled, Hall rose to the top in what may have been the most telling victory of his mixed martial arts (MMA) career.
The fighters came out winging kicks. Hall blocked one and danced around, landing a leg kick as he pressed the pace. Santos landed a good straight right and Hall missed with a spinning backfist. Santos peppered Hall with low kicks, and Hall snapped his jab repeatedly. "Prime Time" kept faking a low kick to throw his jab. He grabbed a kick, but was noticeably limping from Santos' leg assault.
Still, Hall landed a good shot and followed with a big left hook. Hall was blocking kicks to land shots, apparently finding his comfort zone. He threw a wheel kick that missed as the round came to an end.
Hall's toe was found to be broken in between rounds (see the pic here); he threw a few strikes and danced around nonetheless. Hall landed a big overhand right, but Santos landed a big leg kick followed by a huge left hook.
Hall leapt and threw a spinning back kick before landing a right. Santos kept landing his brutal leg kicks, mixing it up with a head kick. It was clear that Hall was hurt as he avoided a takedown to land a high kick. Santos threw a wheel kick and ate a straight from Hall, who did a forward roll to end the second.
"Prime Time" came out tough in the third with his bone almost coming out of the skin. Santos landed a low kick and Hall countered with his hands. The fighters exchanged in the center. Santos landed a spinning kick to the body, and Hall scored a right hand over the top, and then a left.
He worked a kick to a jab combination and a spinning kick to the body. Santos threw a left and ate a low kick from Hall before the action was halted by a low blow.
The bout continued with Hall avoiding a takedown, but Santos clinched on the cage to land some knees. Hall sought a kimura and dropped to the ground as the fight wore down with Santos on top landing some elbows.
Even with the gruesome broken toe, Hall persevered to win a closely contested bout. It was his most impressive UFC performance, and he showed he has a ton of heart after Dana White questioned if he truly did.
He's obviously due for a lengthy medical suspension, but when he returns, Hall is due for a big name fight. A match with someone like N. 10-ranked Costas Philippou or No. 11-ranked Yoel Romero would make for some potentially exciting fights.
For Santos, the loss is a very disappointing one. He had Hall badly injured but couldn't capitalize in the slightest. Instead of possibly wrestling Hall and his broken toe, Santos chose to largely focus on his leg kicks and nothing else.
He's now 1-2 in UFC, and will be headed for a mid-level opponent his next time out. "Marreta" could see his release if he doesn't win that bout impressively.
Uriah Hall continued to build on his massive potential with a solid decision win over Thiago Santos despite a badly broken toe. With the sky the limit, what challenge will await ‘Prime Time' once he heals up?