Last Updated on April 12, 2013.
By MARK LA MONICA – Newsday
To the 17th season of UFC’s “Ultimate Fighter” TV reality fighting show, Uriah Hall brought a reason to watch.
A pair of nasty highlight-reel knockouts created the type of buzz that speeds up the Queens-based Hall’s career trajectory and slows down everyone’s Internet.
He was the focal point of a social media and TV marketing cycle that began with “Wait til you see this!” was followed by “Did you see that?” and ended with “What will he do next?”
Next is the Ultimate Finale in Las Vegas on Saturday as Hall fights Kelvin Gastelum for a guaranteed six-figure contract with the UFC.
Win or lose, Hall carved out a reputation on the show that will earn him quite a few dollars and fights in the UFC. It also comes with expectations.
“I don’t want to live up to it,” Hall told Newsday. “If I start living up to it, then I’ll start putting too much pressure on myself.
“People are going to have their own expectations of me and the next thing you know, I have to be a certain way. I don’t want that. I went in there to test myself as an athlete and a fighter.”
Hall (7-2) won by decision in his qualifying fight to make the final cut. Then came the pain for three fighters in his way.
Adam Cella’s name gained recognition in the preliminary round when his chin stopped Hall’s spinning heel kick and his body dropped in the final seconds of the first round. “I don’t think it was that spectacular of a knockout,” Hall said.
He’s wrong. Humble, but wrong.
Bubba McDaniel needed less than 15 seconds to accept one knee to the midsection and one straight left to the face before he hit the canvas against Hall in the quarterfinals.
“I don’t think in six weeks I could learn anything physical,” Hall said about the entirety of his time on the show. “Just the mindset I had to let go and realize my full potential.”
Dylan Andrews made it through the first round against Hall in the semifinals, which took place last December and aired Tuesday night, then almost made it to the judges’ scoring cards.
But Hall somehow managed to land significant strikes from his back, roll his opponent over without using his arms and then land a series of punches to stop the fight. “I feel I can hit from any position,” Hall said. “You get me on my back, you get on my back, I’m going to hit you. That’s what I’m good at. I’m good at hitting. And I’m going to hit you from any position you put me in.”