By Matt Juul
The UFC announced on Thursday that The Ultimate Fighter season 17 finalist Uriah Hall will get another crack inside the Octagon when he takes on middleweight Chris Leben at UFC 168.
While the striker heavy match-up will be fun addition to the stacked year-end card, I can’t help but feel a bit uneasy giving Hall a third chance to back up his hype stemming from his stint on TUF.
Hall hasn’t looked nearly as good as he did on the long-running reality series, posting up back-to-back lackluster performances in his first two Octagon appearances. Sure, his spinning wheel kick KO was quite the sight to see, but his performances on MMA’s biggest stage have been anything but.
In his first fight at the show’s finale, the striking whiz was completely dominated on the mats by eventual winner Kelvin Gastelum (who, by the way, looks awesome at welterweight), ending up on the wrong end of a split decision.
Sure, you can give him a pass since he got the short end of the stick in terms of the striker vs. wrestler match-up, but his following fight against John Howard in Boston was equally as disappointing.
Rather than trying to take “Doomsday” on standing, Hall repeatedly looked to clinch up or shoot for the takedown, as well as partaking in a strangely large number of in fight high fives with Howard.
While Hall wasn’t necessarily dominated on the mats, Howard definitely got the cleaner strikes and takedowns to take the split decision in his hometown.
What’s odd is, even after two poor outings, the TUF alum is getting an even bigger name to face in his third – and likely last – shot at his first UFC win later this year.
Coincidentally, Leben is in a similar pickle as Hall, having lost four out of his last five including his last three bouts.
Now, “The Crippler” has had his own share of problems in and out of the Octagon in recent years, but with notable wins over Wanderlei Silva, Yoshihiro Akiyama, and Patrick Cote, the alway game Leben has built enough clout with the promotion to get one final chance at a W.
I don’t necessarily think the 33-year-old deserves another shot either, but considering his past battles, I sort of undestand the UFC’s logic here.
However, this situation differs greatly from Hall’s, whose only big victories have come on the show, while the New York based fighter is a dismal 0-4 against current UFC fighters outside of TUF.
I guess a third chance at a win isn’t too big of a deal, but how many other talented fighters have been cut after just one bad fight?
While I get the UFC’s decision to try and keep promoting the hyped-up Hall, unless he can prove me wrong on Dec. 28, giving him another shot will wind up being a bad decision for the UFC.