Matches to Make After UFC Fight Night 181

By Brian Knapp Nov 1, 2020

Uriah Hall was given the unenviable task of putting one of his heroes out to pasture, and for two-plus rounds, he appeared to struggle with the weight of his emotions.

The Fortis MMA export ultimately put his personal feelings aside and brought down former Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight titleholder Anderson Silva with punches in the fourth round of their UFC Fight Night 181 headliner on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Hall drew the curtain 1:24 into Round 4, then bowed apologetically before his idol.

Neither man seemed overly eager to exchange across the first 10 minutes. Silva led the dance, chipped away with leg kicks, countered where appropriate and unleashed occasional bursts of punches. There were flashes of his past brilliance, but at 45 years of age, the Brazilian’s physical limitations were obvious. Near the end of the third round, Hall leveled “The Spider” with an overhand right, followed up with punches and likely would have authored the finish had the horn not sounded. Silva never recovered. He charged at Hall in a borderline-kamikaze attack at the start of Round 4, walked into a counter right hook and hit the deck for a second time. Referee Herb Dean allowed a few more standing-to-ground punches to find their mark before waving it off.

In the aftermath of UFC Fight Night “Hall vs. Silva,” here are five matches that ought to be made:

Uriah Hall vs. Chris Weidman: They met as rising prospects more than a decade ago in the Ring of Combat promotion, where Weidman punched out Hall in the first round of their encounter on Sept. 24, 2010. Both men soon factored into the UFC’s equation at 185 pounds, as Weidman dethroned Silva to become undisputed middleweight champion and Hall burst on the scene as a finalist on Season 17 of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series. Weidman once had the look of an all-time great, but a few violent losses, a number of significant injuries and a string of inconsistent performances have left him somewhat aimless in the division he once ruled. He won for just the second time in seven outings on Aug. 8, when he took a unanimous decision from Omari Akhmedov at UFC Fight Night 174. A loser-leaves-contention rematch with Hall makes plenty of sense.

Bryce Mitchell vs. Edson Barboza: Mitchell overcame the lack of depth and dimension in his game to climb another rung on the featherweight ladder with a unanimous decision over Team Alpha Male mainstay Andre Fili in the three-round co-main event. All three cageside judges struck scorecards in Mitchell’s favor: 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28. Fili was effective in spurts and made the Arkansas native work to gain ground, but his inability to stay upright proved costly. Mitchell executed a career-high seven takedowns, progressed to full mount on multiple occasions and methodically broke down the Californian with relentless effort. Now 14-0 as a pro, “Thug Nasty” figures to remain a problem for much of the 145-pound weight class for the foreseeable future. Barboza snapped a three-fight losing streak when he was awarded a unanimous verdict against Makwan Amirkhani at UFC Fight Night 179 on Oct. 10.

Greg Hardy vs. Tanner Boser-Andrei Arlovski winner: Brute strength and fast-twitch athleticism—hallmarks one would expect to see in a former NFL All-Pro—lifted Hardy to a second-round technical knockout of Maurice Greene in their heavyweight showcase. Hardy disposed of “The Crochet Boss” with punches 72 seconds into Round 2, as he improved to 4-2 in the UFC. The polarizing Dana White’s Contender Series graduate took control in the first round and stepped on the accelerator in the second, where he floored Green with a sharp jab and slammed the door on “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 28 semifinalist with unanswered punches and hammerfists. Hardy has not yet earned his stripes as a serious contender, but he remains an uncomfortable matchup for virtually anyone in the division. Boser and Arlovski will lock horns at UFC Fight Night 182 on Nov. 7.

Kevin Holland vs. Ronaldo Souza-Marvin Vettori winner: Holland became the first fighter on the UFC roster to win four times in 2020 when he slammed organizational newcomer Charlie Ontiveros into submission in the first round of their featured middleweight pairing. Ontiveros requested referee Mark Smith’s intervention 2:39 into Round 1 after suffering an apparent neck injury. Holland dodged the taekwondo stylist’s unorthodox techniques, closed the distance and executed two takedowns, the second of which resulted in the fight-ending sequence. Afterward, “The Trailblazer” took notice of Israel Adesanya, who was seated nearby, and resumed his war of words with the undisputed middleweight champion. Souza and Vettori are scheduled to collide at UFC 256 on Dec. 12.

Sean Strickland vs. Ian Heinisch-Brendan Allen winner: Strickland returned from a two-year absence and hit the ground running, as he outstruck former Cage Warriors Fighting Championship titleholder Jack Marshman to a unanimous decision in their three-round undercard battle at 185 pounds. All three cageside judges scored it 30-27 for Strickland, who more than doubled the Welshman in the significant strikes landed department (106-48). The onetime King of the Cage champion exudes confidence and wields the well-round skills to match. Strickland will enter his next assignment with a stellar 21-3 record, having lost only to Santiago Ponzinibbio, Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos and Kamaru Usman. Heinisch and Allen have been slotted opposite one another at UFC Fight Night 182 on Nov. 7.
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