It's Sunday morning and the Uriah Hall bandwagon is looking decidedly empty.
Gone are the fans who gushed over Hall after he severed Adam Cella's hold on his consciousness with one of the most devastating spinning head kicks you'll ever see this side of a Mortal Kombat finishing sequence. Those dudes who proclaimed the unheralded TUF phenom ready to face a top contender after he battered Bubba Jenkins' eye until the tissue around poor Bubba's orbital bone resembled a raw meatball as much as any part of the human anatomy? They've already forgotten about Hall and are busy posting on the Underground about which of the two new Octagon girls they'd rather go on a date with in the unlikely scenario a girl like that would give the time of day to a guy who spends his nights writing 10,000 word treatises about the finer points of Don Frye's moustache. That easily excitable guy who saw Hall knock out Dylan Andrews from the bottom and immediately texted all his friends about how this monster tearing through the TUF field would be the one to finally beat Anderson Silva? Not only is he nowhere to be found, he's purposely leaving his phone off for the next few days to avoid the inevitable deluge of texts rubbing his nose in the fact he jumped the gun and fell for a promotional con job yet again.
Look, don't beat yourself up if you're one of those unfortunate souls who rode the Uriah Hall hype train into Vegas this past Saturday and found yourself without a ride home after it derailed. It's not your fault the train's conductor unexpectedly fell asleep at the wheel for a round or so and ran straight into an oncoming locomotive named Kelvin Gastelum.
Besides, there are few things more exciting in sports than a new star on the rise. Can you blame people when they see a fighter turn in three performances in a row like Hall did on TUF and they subsequently get wrapped up in the idea a legitimate contender could be emerging before their eyes?
At the same time, it's only natural to feel like you've been hoodwinked by hype when a fighter who has been talked up as the future of the division ends up looking like just another victim of the Octagon jitters in his official UFC debut. However, this is one where we really can't blame Dana White or even the master huckster himself Chael Sonnen for selling us a bill of goods. After all, it isn't like any of those crazy knockouts were CG'd in after the fact. Hall really did look like a killer as he buzz sawed his way through the TUF house. Not that any of those highlight reel performances did him any good against the very game Gastelum, but it's not like Hall is the complete jabroni some are already making him out to be. Well, he's probably not at any rate.Almost as soon as the fight was over the "I told you so's" began from those with enough of a sense of history to remember the name Phillipe Nover and enough foresight to predict the shelf life on Hall's aura as a killer was destined to expire the moment he got in the Octagon with a legit UFC-level contender. I realize it's human nature to gloat over your awesome prognostication skills when the outcome of a fight justifies your reservations about a given fighter, but before we write off Hall as a complete washout, how about giving the guy another chance to prove what he's made of? Don't you think it's kind of harsh to let a subpar fifteen minutes cancel out the three amazing performanes Hall delivered in the course of just five weeks in the TUF house?
If you ask Dana White he'll tell you Hall's biggest problem was he "mentally broke" under the pressure of fighting Gastelum in the finale. I'm not going to argue with the UFC president’s assessment.
However, I would like touch on the subject of a heart to heart between Sonnen and Hall a couple weeks back and how it might relate to White’s diagnosis. According to the gangster from West Lynn, Hall had a choice before the quarterfinal fight with Jenkins between staying positive and choosing victory, or allowing doubt to creep in and thereby conceding defeat before even setting foot in the Octagon. I don't know enough about Hall to speculate as to the reasons why, but from the faraway look in his eyes and his complete inaction in the first round it certainly appeared he was fighting a handicap match against whatever mental demons he's got whispering self-defeating messages in his ear and the very real, very determined Gastelum.
If this is indeed the case it might behoove Hall to take a small portion of his $25,000 knockout of the season bonus and invest some of it in a few sessions with a sports psychologist. I’m not saying Hall is a talent at this level, but look at the wonders a little therapy did for GSP after his devastating upset loss to Matt Serra.
Whatever method he ultimately opts for, Hall would wise to spend some time trying to surmount the mental block that held him back in the Gastelum fight before he gets in the Octagon again. If Uriah Hall can defeat the enemy in his own head, he may still end up becoming the contender many of us thought he was before this past Saturday night.