It’s approaching nine months since Hall last entered the Octagon. He did so last July at UFC Vegas 33 to headline against fellow contender Strickland. “Tarzan” rode a four-fight win streak and quick rise up the 185-pound ladder into his first main event. “Prime Time” was also coming off four straight triumphs, which included a win against Anderson Silva.
When they shared the cage, it was largely one-way traffic. Strickland used his jab to piece Hall up and leave the 37-year-old beaten and bruised. Despite coming close to being finished, the Jamaican-born American made it to the final horn, but lost the fight via unanimous decision (50–44, 50–45, 49–46).
Now, Hall has revealed that he didn’t actually want to be inside the Octagon with Strickland that night.
Hall: I Didn’t Have The Right Mindset To Fight Strickland
During a recent interview with Calf Kick Sports, Hall, the current #9-ranked middleweight, spoke about the nature of former UFC matchmaker Joe Silva. While Silva’s apparent threats and authoritarian nature are no longer present, Hall says that hasn’t changed the promotion’s frustration and attitude towards fight rejections.
Pinpointing his latest appearance, Hall said he wasn’t in the right mindset to fight Strickland, an opponent he also doesn’t believe made sense at the time. Nevertheless, “Prime Time” felt he had to take the bout because the UFC “don’t like when you say no.”
“When I lost to Sean Strickland, first of all, I didn’t wanna do that fight. Fine, UFC throw it down my throat, I’ll take it. Cause, you know, they don’t like when you say no,” said Hall. “I took it… But taking that fight, I was like—I just didn’t have the right mindset to get into it. It’s like, ‘I don’t want this? The guy’s behind me, it doesn’t make sense. I don’t wanna take this.’
“You can’t argue unless you have certain leverage, like a Conor (McGregor), or a Dustin (Poirier). A Conor who lost. He loses a bunch of fights and he’s fighting for the belt. Like, what?! But, it’s understandable; he’s got the leverage to do it. It sucks man. It f*cking sucks,” concluded Hall.
Recent developments in the lightweight division appear to support Hall’s belief. After his victory over Bobby Green in February, it seemed Islam Makhachev had secured his place behind Justin Gaethje in the queue for a title shot. The Dagestani and his mentor Khabib Nurmagomedov certainly believed as much.
However, after apparently turning down a fight against Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 272 on less than a week’s notice, the promotion appeared to have a change of heart. UFC President Dana White announced that after he turned down the Brazilian, Makhachev will instead have his original February bout with Beneil Dariush re-arranged next.
What do you make of Uriah Hall’s comments on how the UFC reacts to fights being turned down?