Before he stepped into the octagon with Anderson Silva this past October, Uriah Hall had already learned a lot of valuable lessons from the longtime UFC middleweight champion.
Hall and Silva met in the main event of UFC Vegas 12, where “Prime Time” put away one of his idols in the fourth round via TKO.
While they finally got to share the cage together in 2020—in what turned out to be Silva’s final UFC appearance—it was over a decade before that where Hall began to learn from and see the greatness of “The Spider.”
“When I saw him back in 2009, 2010, I remember looking at him and thinking, ‘I would love to train with this guy,’” Hall told MMA Fighting while appearing on What the Heck. “People were comparing me to him—I didn’t really know who he was [at the time]—and then I was like, ‘Wow, I guess I am kind of similar in a way.’
“I started to watch him, of course. I idolized him so much. I had so much respect for him because he made me feel like I wasn’t alone. I was crafty. I was creative, and this creativity is something you have to feed. Of course, there was a portion in my career where I forgot about that creativity because when you start to listen to people, you start to listen to these negative affirmations, things, comments, or opinions that you slowly start to forget who you are. There was a perfect quote from Les Brown, ‘Don’t let someone’s opinion of you become your reality.’ I think I’ve done that, if I’m really honest with myself, I chose to listen to others.”
Hall is now getting ready to face another former world champion in Chris Weidman this Saturday at UFC 261 after the originally scheduled UFC 258 date was postponed due to Weidman testing positive for COVID-19. The 36-year-old will look to avenge the first loss of his pro career on the regional scene when Weidman finished him in the first round at Ring of Combat 31 in September 2010.
As Hall made his presence felt in the UFC after a memorable showing on season 17 of The Ultimate Fighter, he began to see that the game was changing. While there were still shades of the martial arts spirit that drew him to the sport, he noticed that stars were emerging in the UFC based on their ability to speak and talk trash into a live microphone.
Looking at Silva and his legendary run, he realized that things were shifting in a different direction, but it’s still important to be who you are.
“You hear people say all the time, ‘Which Uriah is going to show up?’” Hall said. “I started to believe that. Like, oh sh*t, which Uriah is going to show up? But you have to understand how certain things happen dynamically. It’s like, no one’s really the best fighter in the world. It’s the best fighter that day, that time, that moment. And that’s what I love about MMA, because anybody can be beaten.
“A lot of times—whether it’s media, or other things that will change the principles of it—you look at the old school ways of the UFC, it was about honor, integrity, and all of that. It doesn’t exist anymore, which I get. You have to evolve with the game. So now trash talk is a thing. It’s a good thing because it sells, but it’s bad because, is that really you? I used to struggle with that because why do I have to be fake to be something that I’m not? I don’t want to be fake. I was taught to be myself. The martial arts background I was taught was to be honorable. That was special to me, so I had to struggle with that, especially in the limelight. Especially when there’s a camera in front of you all the time following your daily activities, so now everyone gets to see you and they get to form their own opinion, and they don’t even know the real you.
“Then you start to be like, ‘Well I guess that’s me. Oh, that’s not me? That’s me then.’ And then you slowly forget who you are.”
As it currently stands, the history books will show that Hall will be the last fighter to face and defeat Silva in the UFC after the latter parted ways with the promotion in November, news that was first reported by MMA Fighting. While it’s certainly an accomplishment most fighters would hold dearly, Hall isn’t looking at it as a competitive trophy by any means.
In the end, he hopes that the 16 minutes and 24 seconds he shared with a legend will lead to more lessons learned together in the future.
“I don’t think being the last guy to beat Anderson Silva, or knock him out, that doesn’t do it for me,” Hall explained. “For one, I respect him too much to even claim a title like that. I think the best thing for me to say that I accomplished would be to be able to train with him. And I did text him after. I hit him up on Instagram and was like, ‘I don’t know if it’s my place, but I’ve always wanted to train with you. That was actually my first goal. I would love to have the honor to train with you, if you’ll let me.’
“He was like, ‘Absolutely, brother. I would love to.’ He was on vacation at the time. So hopefully after this, I’ll get to move around with the legend. I’m excited about that. It’s fun for me.”