In what was described by many as a loser leaves town match up on paper seemed like a good idea. Pitting previous TUF entrants Chris Leben and Urijah Hall against each other had the potential of being the undercard’s fight of the night. Leben’s stalking style and his ability to relentlessly surge forward could potentially unlock Urijah Hall’s post TUF gun shyness. To a certain extent this promise was delivered, Leben lumbered forward like someone wearing lead boots moving towards a gale force wind. Hall unloaded a barrage of lightning shots, knees, spinning kicks, straight rights and at one point I even spotted a kitchen sink in Leben’s path.
Hall ultimately retired Leben, who’s “I’m done” cut crisply over the broadcast as he sought to recover on his stool after being dropped in the first round by Hall. Unfortunately for Hall he gets a pass, only just. Let’s take a cursory glance at who and what he dispatched. Leben is a legend. Since his stint on TUF he has always been a crowd pleaser who’s never one to back up even when on the worst end of a beatdown. However, as his performance from his latest bout proved he is a long way removed from the agile and relentless athlete we romantically recall whenever his name is brought up in conversation.
Given the opponent before him, Hall’s constant back peddling after unloading on Leben was a tad baffling, but not unexpected. After being openly criticised by the UFC President for not pulling the trigger since his Octagon debut Hall has now made an incremental step forward. After his highlight reel exploit in the TUF house Hall was always going to be under pressure to perform and deliver similar highlight reel fodder. We saw flashes of this as he teased us with his potential, making Leben look slightly amateurish as he attacked at will.
Unfortunately where Hall could have decisively closed the door on previous claims levelled at him he chose to draw out what could have been a career defining moment. Whilst not forgetting that he retired Leben the bout still leaves a sense of dissatisfaction regarding his potential as a finisher. What we saw was someone who could clearly maim but still unsure, reluctant to a certain extent to deliver the kill shot. Hall gets a stay of execution, for now, whether he gets to stick around will be answered when he next enters the octagon. Perhaps instead of watching the usual pre fight reels of opponents Hall might benefit from watching the classic Japanese film directed by Takashi Miike, Ichi the Killer.