Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight standouts Robert Whittaker and Uriah Hall dueled last night (Nov. 14, 2015) at UFC 193 inside Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, Australia.
Whittaker made the move to middleweight about a year ago, and the results have been fantastic. He entered this bout on the heels of two big knockout victories, and the Australian was looking for a third in front of his home crowd.
This was quite an opportunity for Hall as well. Coming off the biggest win of his career, Hall had a chance to legitimize his position as a contender and potentially add another highlight reel knockout to the list.
Whittaker opened the fight with aggression, trying to take his opponent's head off with a hook before landing some nice kicks. After getting cracked with a hard right hand, Hall opened up as well, and both men began trading strikes.
At about the halfway point of the fight, Whittaker caught a spin kick and took Hall down. From top position, Whittaker was aggressive and effective, as he landed some hard ground strikes and managed to pass Hall's guard a couple of times.
Between his fast start and effective grappling, Whittaker clearly took the opening round.
Both men started quickly again, trading fast punches, kicks, and jump knees. Though both men were attacking with varied techniques -- which made for a highly entertaining scrap -- Whittaker's speed was a huge advantage, as he seemed to be landing the cleaner shots.
To counter that speed, Hall did step up his forward pressure with around 90 seconds remaining. Though it allowed him to land some nice shots, including a sweet kick to the throat, Whittaker still got the better of most exchanges and seemed to have a slight edge.
Still, it was any man's fight heading into the final frame.
The two fighters traded wildly to start the third round, and a power punch from Whittaker either landed on Hall's eyeball or simply rocked him. Either way, Hall was in trouble, and Whittaker swarmed him with a flurry.
After recovering, Hall attacked with a major sense of urgency, firing off some seriously hard shots. Some of those got through Whittaker's defenses, but the hometown favorite appeared unphased. Once Hall was done firing off kill shots, the two traded shots.
The fight ended with Whittaker pursuing a takedown, and the final round could go to either man. However, all three judges agreed that Whittaker was the better man last night and awarded him the decision victory.
This was an excellent performance by Whittaker, and it really showcased the advantage of moving up to middleweight. While both men were striking with bad intentions, Whittaker's ability to rapidly explode forward with power really earned him the victory.
Across the entire fight, Whittaker was simply a touch faster than Hall. When he leaped forward, Whittaker connected with his hard strikes and was usually out of range before Hall could return.
Another nice aspect of Whittaker's striking -- one he hadn't showed to this degree before -- was his low kicking attack. Whittaker commonly blinded Hall with fast punches before digging into his thigh with a picture perfect low kick. Putting all his weight behind the kick and getting his head off the center line, Whittaker was able to safely deliver hard kicks that likely limited Hall's movement.
Following this win, Whittaker deserves a top 10 opponent. While his original opponent, Michael Bisping, is still a viable option, I wouldn't mind seeing Whittaker compete with Vitor Belfort instead.
To his credit, Hall performed well also. He kept his volume fairly high and pulled the trigger often, firing off a ton of potentially fight ending strikes. While none of them landed cleanly enough to end Whittaker's night, there was also the feeling that any strike Hall threw could be the last.
Additionally, Hall's cardio was pretty impressive for this fight. He's a large, muscular fighter who capitalizes on explosive strikes, which isn't usually the recipe for conditioning. However, Hall kept up a pretty solid pace for the entire bout.
Unfortunately, Whittaker was just a touch sharper this time around.
Still, this loss raises Hall's stock more than anything, as it shows that he's fixed many of the issues that were plaguing him in the past. Following this defeat, a scrap with CB Dollaway would be a worthwhile match up for "Primetime."
Last night, Whittaker extended his win streak to four with an entertaining win over Uriah Hall. Where does the New Zealand-native go from here?
For complete UFC 193 "Rousey vs Holm" results and play-by-play, click HERE!