Trigger Warning: This article includes discussion of depression, suicidal thoughts and self-harm.
Uriah Hall said his MMA retirement came with a “deep depression” that included suicidal thoughts.
Following an open workout for his professional boxing debut, which takes place Saturday against Le’Veon Bell on the undercard of Paul vs. Silva, the former UFC middleweight spoke of a fresh start after struggling to find his post-MMA identity.
“I spent the last 20 years of my life committing myself, my soul, to one attribute, and then all of a sudden, it’s gone, it’s taken away,” Hall told MMA Fighting at a media scrum in support of the pay-per-view at Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Ariz. “It was some really dark, deep places, and luckily, I had the right people around me to support me.
“When I say I felt depressed, I even at one point looked at my firearm, like, ‘Wait a minute, I could go down a really dark path if I don’t get out of this.’”
Hall announced his MMA retirement in August after a 19-fight run in the UFC, which began after a finalist turn on The Ultimate Fighter 17. He earned several high-profile wins in the octagon, including a stoppage of former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
On Wednesday, Hall took the stage before his former opponent Silva and then opened up about his rocky transition from MMA fighting to boxing.
“If you don’t have the right support system, you won’t get out of it,” he said. “If you look at like, people like Robin Williams, all those type of people, you’re like, ‘How the f*** did you kill yourself?’ I get it. At that moment, I finally f****** understood.”
Hall said he hesitated talking about his struggles because he didn’t want to seem “weak.” He noted there were “politics” involved with his departure from MMA and he felt “alone” and pressured by expectations that he “had to be a man to get out of it.”
When he finally did, Hall said it was physical activity that got him out of his funk. The former UFC fighter encouraged others struggling with depression to do the same – and reach out to someone to talk about their feelings.
On Saturday, Hall meets Bell, whom he knew nothing about athletically. His only answer to the challenge, he said, was “OK” to facing a former NFL running back.
“Honestly, and I’m sorry, I do not watch football,” he said. “I don’t even watch my f***king sport. I like figure skating, because it’s articulate, and I’m that type of guy. But hey, we’re all weird in our own way.”
Hall is unsure about his next move in combat sports, only that he is working to stay “connected to everything and detached....because literally, nothing lasts forever.”