Uriah Hall isn’t concerning himself with the narratives surrounding his UFC Vegas 12 main event fight with Anderson Silva this weekend. At least not when it comes to him spoiling Silva’s farewell party, ushering “The Spider” into retirement, or any such nonsense.
Asked during the event’s media day this week about how he will separate talk of spoiling Silva’s retirement from actually going out and doing his job, Hall (15-9) said bluntly, “by not listening to the media.”
Only problem being, it’s Anderson Silva. That same media proceeded to bring up Silva’s retirement again and again. “Anderson Silva is a legend, so I’m just excited to go out there against a guy I watched growing up,” Hall responded later. After that, with the subject brought up again, Hall called the fight “work.”
“It’s a fight, man. It’s work. You do your job and you get out,” said Hall. “I mean, obviously he’s a legend and I respect him but it’s a fight. We all look at him in awe and all that, but it’s a fight. What else do you want me to say? It’s a fight. It’s like, you show up for work. Work, right? And you do your job and you get out. That’s it.”
Thing is, if Hall does win, he’ll wind up being the villain, even if he is just doing his job. That’s the fight business. MMA is as pure a sport as you will find, but the masses want stories to go with those fights. Silva is the old lion looking for one last moment of glory. Hall might not be a young up-and-comer, but he has a few more miles to go in his own journey.
Later still, Hall said of the Silva fight that “personally for me, Anderson has been someone I’ve idolized for years, so to me that’s a trophy fight. It’s a championship fight to me in my mind.”
Perhaps that will take him all the way to a title. He’s on a two-fight win streak currently. And Hall certainly opened up about Israel Adesanya this week. Who he said is “picking his fights, man.”
“He sees the hole in all these guys and he’s already picking Cannonier, he’s looking for easy fights,” opined Hall. Adesanya did, in fact, suggest a fight between himself and Cannonier, should the latter get past Robert Whittaker at UFC 254. Cannonier came up short, however. In any case, Hall went on to add that “I know he’s picking certain fights, but I’m dynamic. And especially with the gym that I’m at right now, I’m focused. Laser-focused. So it’s a matter of time. I’m just going to play the politics card, and beat whoever the UFC needs me to beat, or whoever the UFC thinks can beat me, and get to the top.”
Later, Hall would expand on where he thought the fight with Silva might leave him, and if a big performance might cause the UFC to shine the spotlight on him.
“I’m not gonna sit here and say the UFC plays favoritism. The way the UFC works, if you do a good job, if you go out there and you talk some sh*t, if you beat motherf*cker’s ass fashionably, you’re somebody,” said Hall. “I’m not gonna leave it up to the UFC to do that, and I’m gonna go out there and do what I’m supposed to do. And whatever happens, happens. I know my goals, I know what I’m going to do. I’m not waiting for them to make a decision for me, I’m going to use the opportunity that I have, which is to go up against my opponent. And my goal, the same as his goal is, is to win. That’s it. And after that, I’m looking to get into the top five. Whoever is in the top five, because my ultimate goal right now is to fight the champ. I just want the champ, that’s it.”
It’s never that easy, of course. The fans want stories, the sport continues to flirt with being entertainment first, and sometimes, that matters more than who you beat. Asked about the entertainment side of MMA becoming more important than the sporting side, Hall admitted that “I think that entertainment draws a big audience. There’s a good and bad with it. It’s good because it sells the fight.”
Hall used the example of boxing great Muhammad Ali, who both entertained, and became one of the best of all time. Go back in time and look at “how he sells the fight, how he trash talks, and all that stuff. You want to see him. He’s entertaining, he’s funny,” said Hall. He also goes out there and performs, shows off his skill set, of course. Then there’s Conor McGregor and Colby Covington, two other examples Hall gave. “Yeah, it brings other people in, it brings in fans, actors, or broadens the horizons of [the sport],” Hall continued. What he doesn’t like, said Hall, is that their sort of entertainment “misconstrues a lot of things where, a lot of people don’t understand the dynamics of certain fighter, where it becomes picky and choosy.” Like no one watches the prelims unless they happen to know a fighter, for example.
“It generates favoritism,” in Hall’s opinion. “So it’s a balance with it. The entertainment is good. But the problem that I have with the media and entertainment system is that no one cares anymore. It’s just ‘Let’s just get the story out. We don’t care what hurts.'”
That, said Hall, is why “I have a hard time with the media. I personally, genuinely, hate, and hate is a powerful word, media. So I’m picky and choosy with that, but hey, I can’t control it. I’m just going to do my job the best that I can.”
Watch the full UFC Vegas 12 virtual media day scrum with Uriah Hall above.