Uriah Hall disappointed in his first UFC appearance and was heading in to a must-win situation, so he was looking to showcase the flashy striking that led to him earning plenty of well-deserved hype during the seventeenth season of The Ultimate Fighter. For Howard, who is a Boston fighter, was hoping to pull out the opposite result of Joe Lauzon in front of the hometown fans.
The pressure was on for both fighters.
Hall wasted no time going for a takedown, which appeared to catch Howard off guard. It was surprising to see Howard going for the takedown immediately, but it showed off his improvement he has made in that aspect of his game during his training with UFC veteran Mark Munoz.
After controlling Howard on the ground, Hall decided to let Howard stand and he immediately showed off his quick and flashy striking. Hall had a massive height and reach advantage and that allowed him to fight at the distance that he preferred. Howard landed a strong leaping left hook, but Hall rebounded and pushed the Boston native against the cage and regained control.
Both fighters landed their fair share of shots through the first round and the fight was fairly even after the first five minutes of action, but Hall may have had the slight advantage.
Hall and Howard exchanged kicks to begin the second round before Hall charged in for the takedown. Howard countered by looking for the guillotine, but The Ultimate Fighter 17 runner-up was able to pull himself out of danger. Howard came back to press the action and pushed Hall against the cage before unloaded a flurry of punches to the body.
A wild scramble led to Hall taking Howard’s back with just over a minute and a half to go in the round. Hall was not too active, but he was delivering knees to the back of his opponent’s thigh.
Howard eventually mounted an attack of his own and put Hall on his back where he delivered some strong ground-and-pound to the body and head of Hall. Howard kept the top position for the remainder of the second round.
The fight was anyone’s for the taking entering the final frame.
Both fighters seemed to be holding back in the third round with too much mutual love for each other. There was a lot of glove touching throughout the first few minutes and it overshadowed the action in the cage. Neither man was showing a killer instinct, which could have cost them the fight in a very close fight.
Howard got the most dominant position of the final frame with a takedown, but Hall answered with a takedown of his own with just one minute remaining in the fight.
Hall delivered some shots to the leg of Howard, but he did no real damage while he was on the ground. The two touched gloves again with just twenty seconds to go before ending the fight with a wild cartwheel kick and a diving shot from Howard that landed him in full mount. It was an odd ending to the fight and a tough bout to score for the judges.
When the official decision came in, Hall won a split-decision — 30-27, 28-29, 29-28.
Dana White’s reaction to the fight said it all:
HORRIBLE!!!!!!! The high 5 fight of the night WTF
— Dana White (@danawhite) August 18, 2013