MMA is such a hard sport to predict and Saturday’s The Ultimate Fighter Season 17: Finale at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada proved exactly why. Uriah Hall came into his bout with Kelvin Gastelum as one of the most hyped TUF prospects in recent memory. On the other hand, Gastelum was the second to last pick of the season. Yet, Hall lost. That is the way it works sometimes in MMA. Sometimes, guys just come out of nowhere and upset the applecart.
Hall looked to be mentally lazy during his fight with Gastelum. He held his hands low and seemed more interested in scoring a fantastic knockout rather than fighting to win. Around the second and third round he figured out that he may be losing the fight and looked for more takedowns. But I think his biggest problem going into the fight was that he bought into his own hype, tried to put on a show, and forgot about the fact that he had to actually win the fight.
Luckily for Hall, there have been plenty of participants of TUF who actually went on to have extremely successful careers even though they didn’t win their season. In fact, sometimes the “six-figure contract” that is given to the winners is actually bad for fighters because they are locked into a multi-fight deal without the ability to renegotiate their contract. As a result, sometimes it can be preferable not to win the show. Gray Maynard has competed for the lightweight championship twice after losing to Nate Diaz in the semi-finals of TUF 5. Manny Gamburyan is still hanging around the UFC after losing to Nate Diaz in the finale of that same season. Joe Lauzon is still putting on exciting fights after also losing in the semi-finals of TUF 5. Michael Johnson lost to Jonathan Brookins in season twelve of The Ultimate Fighter but he is actually still in the UFC while Brookins has retired.
The point is, it is not the end of the world for Hall. Zuffa is likely still interested in his highlight-reel knockout ability so they will give him favorable matchups to allow him to show off his skills. Look for Hall to be matched up with a fellow striker in his next bout. MMAFrenzy suggested Stanislav Nedkov and I think that is a perfect matchup for Dana White to build Hall back into the star he thought he could be.