Watch Ultimate Fighter 17 Tuesdays @9pm on FX
Bubba McDaniel (20-6) vs. Uriah Hall (7-2)
McDaniel: Team Jones #3 pick; lost to Kelvin Gastelum via sub R2, def. Kevin Casey via TKO R2
Hall: Team Sonnen #2 pick; def. Adam Cella via KO R1
Along with Samman, these are the “stars” of this season so far – the fighters who have most intrigued with their personalities, for good or for bad depending on your perspective. Now they meet in what could be an intense fight.
It’s been a tough road for Bubba McDaniel to make this quarterfinal. With over 7 years experience and 26 pro fights against the likes of Alexander Shlemenko, Bubba came in to the show as a favorite. His time training with Greg Jackson and, notably, Jon Jones helped in that regard. The trouble is, Bubba certainly viewed himself as the favorite, and the result has been a weird battle with his own head. Against Gastelum, Bubba seemed to freeze up and lost. He got back in through the wildcard fight, punishing Casey to the point of exhaustion. Bubba is a weird fighter who I have a hard time putting my finger on. He’s more of a kickboxer, yet the majority of his wins come via submission. Jones speaks very highly of him, but he hasn’t shown a ton in TUF. In the end, I suspect Bubba may be one of those Keith Jardine types who training partners swear is the best guy in the gym, but can’t seem to hit that same level inside the cage for whatever reason. In his last fight before TUF, I think the announcer summed Bubba’s career up best, noting he “kind of expected more by now.”
Before TUF started airing this season, Dana White made some waves by declaring that one of the fighters was a “monster” who no one wanted to fight. Uriah Hall is that monster. His spinning hook kick KO of Cella was a thing of brutal beauty that demonstrated his superb striking skills. On the feet, Hall is a real talent, favoring a wide range of kicks – all of which pack power. He does have grappling skills, though they tend to be a plan B in his game behind those kicks. While Hall is yet to score a win over a notable opponent, he has faced a tough level of competition, with his only MMA losses coming against Chris Weidman and Costa Philippou – no shame in either of those. Hall too has been struggling with his emotions so far on the show, though it’s yet to get in his way inside the cage.
When you look at these two head to head, Hall is the superior striker, has more power, is better on the mat, and is mentally tougher. I just can’t see a path to a Bubba victory here. Dana promised violence from this “monster” – was the Cella KO just the beginning?
Prediction: Uriah Hall by KO