Both Uriah “Prime Time” Hall and Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort will step into the cage at UFC 124 as desperate men. They are technically coming off wins but neither of them won the three fights before it. Now, one must deliver the coup de grace’s to the other’s career to stay relevant.
However, Vitor recently announced that he would retire after this fight. While he’d like to go out on a win, Uriah’s performance will determine if one or two careers end on Saturday.
Clash of the underachievers
Despite the variance in career lengths, it’s safe to say neither Uriah nor Vitor has lived up to lofty expectations.
Uriah exploded into mainstream consciousness by terrorizing his TUF opponents with obscene knockouts. His spinning heel kick over Adam Cella was so vicious that everyone fell silent while Uriah apologized, wondering if he’d just killed a man. As the medical staff brought Cella back to consciousness, the camera cut to a frightened Bubba McDaniels. Uriah would knock him out with a single right hand that left him face-down in a pool of blood. Uriah would then lose the TUF finale to Kelvin Gastelum and is now 6-6 in his UFC career with losses to middling competition.
Vitor has at least won a UFC belt, but did so on the back of a single punch against Randy Couture over a decade ago. Vitor’s MO has been to look spectacular against all but the best fighters against which he crumbles. In his second UFC run he missed opportunities to knock out Chris Weidman and submit Jon Jones which could have catapulted him into history.
Who breaks first?
Uriah and Vitor crumble differently under pressure.
In Uriah’s case, forward pressure will shut down his offense. He’ll be stuck throwing single, long strikes that are easy to duck under or crowd. He’s a poor boxer with no idea how to build combinations and his hands held low. The knockout loss to Derek Brunson, in particular, was discouraging as he was simply walked down and smoked.
Vitor’s offense has remained the same since his earliest days. He’ll catch the opponent with one counter punch and then swarm with straight punches, uppercuts, and head kicks. When this works, the results speak for themselves. But if he cannot finish the opponent, he’ll tire and wilt in the later rounds. Unfortunately, most top-flight opposition knows how to survive wild flurries.
Can Hall do it?
The few minutes of any fight are dangerous against Vitor, but especially so for Uriah. The flaws that led to his 1-3 skid are ones that Vitor’s strengths exploit beautifully.
Uriah will put his butt against the fence more often then he should when pressured and Vitor can literally run him to it. If Vitor connects once, Uriah has neither the footwork nor the defensive capabilities to survive the ensuing onslaught. He doesn’t lean over enough to worry about Vitor’s uppercut but his hands are just low enough to eat the head kick. But if Uriah can survive a Vitor flurry, the Brazilian will be too tired to move effectively. Spinning strikes work best on a stationary target so Uriah will not only knock Vitor out but pick up a post-fight bonus as well.
Both fighters have such glaring weaknesses that Hall’s chances boil down to whether he can survive the flurry. Vitor’s punching power has dropped after the TRT ban and he couldn’t knock out Nate Marquardt, so Uriah has a shot at surviving a counter.
Look for Uriah to win late in the first round by knockout.