LAS VEGAS - Ever since he came up short on "The Ultimate Fighter 17" after huge hype, Uriah Hall has had his heart questioned.
Saturday night, Hall silenced his doubters, hopefully for good.
But Hall persevered in a tremendous display of grit and went through with the bout. He earned a unanimous decision, winning on scores of 29-28, 29-28, 30-27.
"If you're not going after you're dreams, you just exist," Hall said. "You don't want to just exist, you want to get the most out of life."
For the first two rounds, the two exchanged strikes in every possible dimension. Hall managed to pressure better with punches while Santos landed the better inside and outside leg kicks.
In the first round, Hall looked like the feisty competitor who scored the most memorable knockout in TUF history back during his season on the show. He went for all sorts of spinning back fists and spinning kicks. Santos answered with spinning strike attempts of his own.
The New York City resident had steak to back up the sizzle, though, as found a home with overhand rights which rocked Santos on several occasions as he took control of the fight.
Between rounds, the camera zoomed in on Hall's foot, which showed off a fairly gruesome looking toe injury. Hall pressed on, running on adrenaline, and continued to push the pace in round two.
Before the final round, the doctor checked out Hall's foot, and he was cleared for action. Hall continued to get the best of things until Santos landed a low blow. In the final minute, Santos (9-3) finally got in some sustained offense, but Hall held on until the end and got a big ovation from the crowd.
In his postfight interview, Hall, who has won two in a row, said he felt each kick he threw after the injury.
"I definitely did," Hall said. "Every moment, I would feel my bone shifting out of my skin."