Uriah Hall doesn’t anticipate the UFC ever going back to the old ways ”“ and that is quite alright with him.
When the UFC was first created, it was based around the concept of “no rules,” and littered with plenty of bloody brawls.
For Hall, who has spent countless hours training to become a mixed martial artist, the sport is about more than that.
After hearing from fans that he was some sort of “killer” following a devastating knockout on his way to a runner-up performance on The Ultimate Fighter 17, Hall was forced to re-evaluate himself as a person and fighter.
“I felt like I was trying to live up to this killer instinct that everybody created for me,” Hall said, during a recent interview with FightLine.com. “I don’t need to have a killer instinct. I am a pro fighter and I don’t have to be upset, angry, a bloodhound (to fight). That was why I was failing because that’s not me.
“I enjoy the sportsmanship of the sport. I want to be able to bang and shake hands (after the fight) with my opponent.”
While born in Jamaica, Hall was raised in New York ”“ a state that to this day still has not legalized MMA. That is something he hopes to change through “understanding” of what he does.
“I don’t want people to look at (MMA or myself) as having no intelligence,” Hall said. “People acting like I am not intelligent drives me nuts. We need to educate people about the different parts of the sport. It is hard for people to understand that this isn’t a blood sport based around blood and gore.
“I was struggling with it, but got a better understanding of myself; I am more of a martial artist, technical. People have their own opinions and write different stuff.”
As for New York, Hall stated much the same thoughts.
“People don’t have that understanding of what we do,” he said. “Give it a chance, try to understand it. I don’t walk around and punch people in the face.
“It just kills me how certain people have that attitude (about MMA).”
Hall scored his first official UFC victory in December, finishing veteran Chris Leben at UFC 168. Leben, someone Hall looked up to, didn’t come out after the first round of action.
“I was a little shocked (by the finish),” he said. “I wanted more. I was ready to go 10 more minutes. It was the end of the year and I was all pumped up. I wanted to get some more.”
The fight was filled with added pressure, as UFC president Dana White had stated the loser would likely be cut from the active roster. Hall had dropped two straight split decisions, but learned from both and showed just that inside the Octagon.
“I try and improve no matter what, win or lose,” he said. “You learn from it when you lose, you learn from it when you win; (every fight) is always a learning experience.”
One of those “learning experiences” came in 2010 when he suffered his first pro loss to current UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman.
Hall was the “top fighter” at the time, holding the Ring of Combat championship. Weidman, who has twice defeated Anderson Silva, the person White compared Hall to while on TUF, scored a first round TKO victory.
“He was the better man that day,” Hall said. “If I ever fight Chris Weidman in the future, it is not gonna happen like that. He has grown, is the champion and I respect him, but I will work my way up and hopefully get a rematch.”
As for more immediate fight plans, Hall is leaving that up to the bosses at Zuffa.He doesn’t plan on going to Twitter and issuing challenges like other fighters do because “that’s not my style.”
“Sure, the UFC likes it when you do their job, get the hype thing up,” he said. “But anybody you put in front of me, I am gonna fight them. The goal here is to take small steps. Fighting Chris Leben, a true veteran in this sport, was the first goal.”
Hall is currently on a self-imposed sabbatical because “I have been training for four months straight and don’t wanna think about (a return to fighting at the moment).” He was in the gym through Thanksgiving and Christmas, but didn’t miss either holiday.
“Every Thanksgiving and Christmas I can remember I have been training,” Hall said. “I am over (the holidays). To me, it is just another day.”
Along with marching towards a future UFC championship, Hall has one other goal in mind.
“I want to be that guy or one of the guys to carry (the sport of MMA),” he said. “The first option is to make it legal in New York. I feel I would be a good representative and hopefully can get others to view it differently.
“I just want everyone to enjoy MMA.”