UFC Vegas 33: Hall and Strickland Promise Violence in Headliner

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Uriah Hall, UFC Vegas 33
Uriah Hall, UFC Vegas 33 weigh-in Credit: Alex Behunin/Cageside Press

Sean Strickland will look to record the biggest victory of his career as he looks to shock perennial contender Uriah Hall at UFC Vegas 33.

Though the entire appeal of mixed martial arts is based around the fact that there is a very real risk involved, it is nonetheless shocking when a truly serious injury does happen.  Being on the other side of the devastating injury to Chris Weidman in April, Uriah Hall can only move forward after the bout ended with the first strike thrown in 17 seconds.  Though ruled a victory for Hall, the nature of the fight essentially made it a lateral move as he was unable to win in a definitive fashion that propelled him forward in the division.

The unfortunate end to the fight overshadowed the momentum Hall had built over the past three years as he had defeated Bevon Lewis, current PFL semifinalist Antonio Carlos Jr, and former UFC champion Anderson Silva.  Currently, his four fight win-streak is his best in the UFC since he joined the promotion in 2013 through The Ultimate Fighter.  After setbacks and injuries hampered his career, the 36 year-old Hall looks to push for what many think could be his final run at the title.

Following a serious motorcycle accident in 2018, there was question if Sean Strickland would be the same and be able to compete at a high level again.  It was a loss on multiple levels, to be sure.  Prior to his accident, Strickland had made a name for himself as a tough welterweight contender whose only career losses came against top contenders such as future champion Kamaru Usman, Santiago Ponzinibbio, and Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos.

Upon his return, Strickland moved up to middleweight and bested Jack Marshman in October of 2020.  The victory kicked off a 3-0 run following his return that also saw him overcome tough prospect Brendan Allen and most recently Kryzystof Jotko this past May.  Currently ranked 11th, a victory over Hall would come at a crucial time as nearly all of the ranked fighters ahead of him are scheduled for bouts and he could find himself in a high profile fight as the major players at 185 pounds jockey for position in the title picture.

Stylistically, Strickland must follow the blueprint set by several fighters and not allow Hall space in the center of the Octagon.  “Prime Time” does his best work when he is able to use his diverse arsenal of strikes at mid-range so Strickland should look to pressure him with his physicality.  Rather than get into a brawl, Strickland should target the body and keep Hall corralled against the fence where he figures to have the best advantage.  Hall should take a patient approach and counter Strickland, avoiding exchanges in the pocket.

The winner of the bout will likely have several possible options as the division plays out in the next two months.  The future of the title picture will be decided by who wins the rematch between champion Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker later this year.  Should Adesanya prevail, he will likely look for fresh challenges against either Jared Cannonier or Darren Till who are scheduled for bouts in August and September respectively.  A Whittaker victory could open the door for the Hall vs Strickland winner to face Cannonier, Till, Derek Brunson, or Paulo Costa in a title eliminator.

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