Human highlight reel, Uriah Hall, will look to take another step up the Middleweight ladder opposite rising striker, Sean Strickland, this Saturday (July 31, 2021) at UFC Vegas 33 inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Has Hall turned the corner to finally emerge as the contender he appeared to be way back on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF)? He’s won his last four bouts, scoring three stoppages in the process. Admittedly, one of those victories involved Chris Weidman immediately destroying his leg across Hall’s knee, but even so, it’s the best win streak of Hall’s career. In his recent performances, Hall has shown an ability to rally from adversity and remain dangerous late. That’s two major steps in the right direction for “Prime Time,” who is a knockout threat each and every time he throws a strike.
Let’s take a closer look at his skill set:
Hall recently relocated to Fortis MMA in Dallas, Texas, which seems to have been a brilliant move. Historically, Hall’s great problem has been consistency, winning the entirety of fights rather than individual strong moments. Hall has always been able to find big shots, but afterward, he’d often take his foot off the gas and allow his opponent to dictate pace and work back into the fight.
Hall is doing better at remaining focused, staying off the cage and keeping active.
Though spin kicks made him famous, Hall’s best weapon is the jab. His reach is nearly 80 inches, and Hall is a tremendous athlete. As a result of his quickness, Hall is able to load up his jab more than most. He lowers his level and shifts his lead shoulder in front of his chin, allowing him to maximize extension on the strike and fire with real power.
Hall’s jab doesn’t poke opponents, it stabs them.
In addition, Hall does a really good job of feinting before he throws the jab. His feint can be a shoulder pump or partial reach forward with his lead hand (he’ll mix it up to vary the timing). In the past, Hall has focused on jabbing while moving backwards, but against Antonio Carlos Junior, he really walked his foe down with the jab.
Hall has grown better at building off his jab in recent years with his boxing. Once his opponent is reacting to the jab, Hall will drop his body weight down and come up the side of the head with a hook instead. In addition, Hall will spend a lot of time jabbing and double jabbing, which increases the odds that the right hand lands when he does occasionally pitch the cross (.GIF).
Since Hall’s jab is so powerful, slipping or parrying the strike becomes a necessity. Hall used this predictable reaction on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) to knock out Adam Cella. A left feint drew his opponent’s hands forward, at which point Hall instead spun into a kick (.GIF).
In the best win of his career, Hall stopped Gegard Mousasi with a jumping spin kick, but this was more an example of timing (.GIF). Mousasi ducked at the wrong time, and an incredibly quick kick ended his night. Hall also used the jump spin kick well against Paulo Costa, countering the Brazilian’s pressure.
When opponents advance, Hall is happy to stick the jab, but he’s got some real tricks with his counter right hand (.GIF). Often, fighters are forced to jab with Hall simply to keep something in his face and prevent him from completely controlling the fight with that weapon alone. When that happens, Hall will get the timing and looking to land his overhand atop the jab.
In addition, Hall will look to parry directly into the punch. Notably, this is how he knocked out Ron Stallings, as Hall first parried his opponent’s cross before returning the cross (GIF). By dragging the hand down, Hall pulls his opponent a bit closer and makes retreating difficult, creating an opening for his own power shot.
Finally, Hall’s knockout win over Anderson Silva was eerily reminiscent of Silva’s own famous stoppage opposite Forrest Griffin. Silva started the bout strong, but as Hall got his timing down, his powerful punches began to take control. Silva gamely tried to continue pushing the pace, but he ended up walking into a tricky right hand. Hall shifted his stance from Orthodox to Southpaw while retreating then stuck his foe with a stiff jab from his power hand.
It may not have looked like much, but a quick shot to the chin on an opponent moving into the strike is a bad recipe (GIF).
Hall’s primary defensive issues come against the fence, where it’s well-established that Hall will drop his hands and circle (potentially into powerful hooks). That habit seems too established in his game to fully fix, so his current team appears to be working around that flaw by having him avoid the fence in the first place. Against Carlos Junior, Hall did get whacked with a couple slow overhands while his back was to the fence, but on the whole, he was at least urgent in shuffling his feet before getting to that point.
Hall’s physical strength is a real advantage in wrestling exchanges.
Typically, Hall doesn’t shoot for takedowns. However, against opponents who are really intent on forcing the takedown, “Prime Time” is more willing to offensively wrestle. Against men like Kelvin Gastelum and Rafael Natal, Hall picked up the occasional takedown when his opponent ran out of steam on their own attempts. From the body lock or double-leg along the fence, Hall was able to power his foes to the mat.
Defensively, Hall’s issues again come with consistency and cage work. In the center, he’s pretty solid at pulling opponents off his legs and then working from the clinch. That’s true against the cage as well, but Hall can be out-hustled in that position. Kelvin Gastelum pulled it off with dogged consistency back in 2013, and “Shoeface” managed to land some takedowns under similar circumstances in September 2019 despite already being battered.
Hall is a jiu-jitsu blue belt with a single submission win on his record, a heel hook back on the regional scene. Per UFC Stats, he has attempted just two submissions in his entire UFC career, though one was a pretty quick armbar attempt that put Mousasi in a bit of dangerous.
Speed kills ... even on the mat!
Fortunately, Hall has never been submitted either. Carlos Junior managed to take his back relatively early in the first round, but Hall defended really well. He stayed standing, forcing the Brazilian to hold himself up with his legs. Meanwhile, Hall secured two-on-one control of a hand, which pretty effectively shuts down the threat of the choke. After a couple minutes, Hall was able to pass the arm over his head, forcing Carlos Junior to release the back or risk falling to the floor.
That all sounds simple enough, but against a world-class black belt, patient defense is the correct move.
Hall is 36 years old, and he’s a power striker that relies quite a bit on his athleticism. The time for Hall to capitalize and make his run at the strap is upon us, or else it’s unlikely his beef with Israel Adesanya ever materializes.
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Andrew Richardson, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt, is a professional fighter who trains at Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, California. In addition to learning alongside world-class talent, Andrew has scouted opponents and developed winning strategies for several of the sport’s most elite fighters.