Hall's future now in the hands of UFC brass

August, 19, 2013
8/19/13
12:38
PM ET
McNeil By Franklin McNeil
ESPN.com
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Not long ago, Uriah Hall was a highly touted UFC middleweight prospect; not anymore. Hall might soon be looking for another promotion to call home.

After Hall suffered his second consecutive loss, a split decision to John Howard at UFC Fight Night 26 on Saturday in Boston, promotion president Dana White cast doubt on the fighter’s future inside the Octagon. There’s no question that Hall possesses the physical skills to compete in mixed martial arts; what he lacks is a fighter’s mentality. And it’s leading to his downfall.

“I love Uriah Hall,” White said. “I have a great relationship with this kid. He’s one of the nicest human beings you could ever meet; he’s not a fighter, man.

Uriah Hall has all the physical attributes to be amazing. He's got speed. He's got power. He's just unbelievable. But he doesn't have what it mentally takes to fight [in the UFC].

-- UFC president Dana White, on Uriah Hall's listless showing against John Howard

“If I could take [featherweight] Brad Pickett’s brain and heart and put it inside Uriah Hall’s body, there’d be some damage done. Uriah Hall has all the physical attributes to be amazing. He’s got speed. He’s got power. He’s just unbelievable. But he doesn’t have what it mentally takes to fight [in the UFC].

“I don’t know [whether Hall will be released]. I have to think about this one. I don’t like talking about stuff like that [at postfight Q&A sessions with media].”

Though White refused to say whether Hall will be released by the promotion, the topic is expected to come up for discussion when UFC officials gather at their next meeting.

What bothered White, and most onlookers Saturday night, was the constant friendly gesturing between Hall and Howard. The fighters gave each other high-fives, and occasional hugs, throughout the three-round affair. Their behavior brought a smattering of boos from the crowd of 12,539 at TD Garden during and after the bout.

“That was a high-five competition,” White said. “We’re not here to high-five; we’re not here to shake hands. You can do all that when the fight is over; you’re here to fight.”

The excitement over Hall began to build during his time on Season 17 of “The Ultimate Fighter” series. Hall was the most dominant fighter on the show. His high-level striking produced several memorable knockouts, leading to the belief that he would become a force in UFC.
[+] EnlargeAl Powers
Al Powers for ESPNUriah Hall, left, first showed signs of passivity in a losing effort against Kelvin Gastelum in the TUF finale.

The hype, however, started to fizzle April 13 when Hall was upset by Kelvin Gastelum in the TUF finale -- losing a split decision. Hall showed signs of weakness on the ground during that fight.

But it wasn’t Hall’s performance inside the cage that evening that raised concern from White; it’s what Hall said afterward.

“He was this killer [who] everyone was afraid of on TUF,” White said. “Then he comes into the big show where it all really matters, and this is going to make your livelihood and everything else, and he turns into this different person -- this super-nice guy.

“He was telling me after the Kelvin fight: ‘You know, I just really like him. He’s a really nice guy.’ OK. Well, that really nice guy just took everything you’ve ever wanted.

“Do you understand what I’m saying to you? Do you get that? Does that make sense to you? I guess it doesn’t make sense to him.”

Howard, who competed in UFC Saturday for the first time since getting cut by the promotion after his June 2011 loss to Matt Brown, secured another fight with the promotion. The showing wasn’t a memorable one for Howard -- that high-fiving act with Hall might have cost the Boston resident a few local fans -- but White isn’t holding it against him.

“He won,” White said of Howard. “He will fight again.

“He usually doesn’t fight that way. That’s not how he fights. Uriah is so nice that he makes the other guy really nice.”

When Howard does return to the Octagon it isn’t clear if he will again compete at middleweight. White has not yet decided whether to pencil Howard in at 185 pounds or return him to welterweight.

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