Jacksonville, FL — Ultimate Fighter standout Uriah Hall enters UFC 261 with the chance to cement the best win streak of his UFC career.
With wins over Bevon Lewis, Antonio Carlos Junior, and the legendary Anderson Silva, Hall (16-9) will now face Chris Weidman, like Silva a former middleweight champ. It’s a rematch of a fight from over a decade ago, when Weidman handed Hall his first loss in MMA.
When it comes to the rematch, “it’s business,” Hall said during Wednesday’s UFC 261 media day. “That’s all it is. Fighting is about whoever is left standing. Nothing else. It was a moment in my past, he capitalized on it. He had a different route to get to where he is. He became world champ, had a few successes. I had a separate route as well, I became the ultimate guy in The Ultimate Fighter, and you know, it’s a story. And somehow we ended up right where we need to be.”
That said, after sharing the same promotion for the better part of a decade, the possibility was strong that Hall and Weidman would eventually meet again.
“In the back of my head I knew at some point I would fight him,” admitted Hall. “He’s a name I guess. Of course when I got the name, the word for it, I was like ‘uhh, he’s kind of behind me.'” Hall was busy looking forward, moving towards the ultimate goal of a UFC title shot. “There’s guys that I want, because I like to fight guys that bring the best out of me. That’s never the case, the staff’s like ‘yeah no, we ain’t giving you that fight.'”
So instead, Hall recognized, “you’ve got to make a statement when you go out there.”
Rather than Weidman, “I wanted [Darren] Till for a while. I wanted to beat his ass. But you’ve got to earn him I guess,” added Hall. Till, of course, wound up booked against Marvin Vettori on last week’s UFC Vegas 24 card, only to break his collarbone and drop out of the fight.
In the end, however, all of it is just business and title pursuits for Uriah Hall. “We’re lions in a room full of lions, and we’re all chasing that gazelle. Right now, Izzy got that gazelle. And we’re all chasing that motherf*cker. That’s it. It’s just business.”
Speaking of champ Israel Adesanya, Hall defended his recent light heavyweight title bid against Jan Blachowicz. A fight that saw Adesanya handed the first loss of his MMA career.
“He didn’t really lose, he just ran out of time. The game is changing. You can beat someone up, and they can hold you for five seconds, and they win. It’s weird,” exclaimed Hall. “I don’t know who’s giving these refs, or judges, I want to say judges, lessons. I’m like, who’s educating these guys? But I’m not focused on that. He took a risk, he went up,” continued Hall, who was somewhat surprised to see Adesanya fighting Blachowicz rather than Jon Jones.
“I would eventually love to fight [Adesanya], but it’s more from a competitive standpoint. It has nothing to say, FU, you suck. Do I think he’s great? Absolutely,” explained Hall, who outlined how competitive he in everything from fighting to video games. In the end, he just needs to beat you once, even if it takes a thousand tries.
“I just want to go up against that style [that Adesanya presents], because I know that style. But to get there, I’ve got to play that game. I’ve got to play the politics. It’s like ‘alright, whoever the UFC needs me to beat, whoever the UFC thinks can beat me,'” he added.
Perhaps Uriah Hall is just fighting in the wrong era in the end. “The honor is fading out, and I’m starting to understand that. Because I’m old school,” he admitted. “It’s about business, it’s about money, it’s about capitalizing on all that. And I get it. Doesn’t mean I have to be a part of it, accordingly. But at the end of the day, I get to be me.”
Hall also tackled the subject of Jake Paul when it was presented to him. “Let’s be honest. The guy sucks. He sucks. He really sucks. And looks who he’s picking,” said Hall, asked about the Youtube celebrity’s ability to draw over a million PPV buys. “So I get it. From a business standpoint, a Youtube person going out there, and people are feeding off that. Because you have people that hate him, and people that love him, but you’ve still got to watch him. It’s genius.”
“But at the same time, it humiliates what I call real athletes, that really put in the time,” Hall continued. “And I know guys behind me not even making that much. I know guys out there that aren’t even making much [more] than the ring card girls.” That said — Hall would take the fight. And beat Paul with one hand, for free, he added.
Watch the full UFC 261 media day scrum with Uriah Hall above. The event takes place this Saturday, April 24 at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida. The main card airs live on PPV.