LAS VEGAS - Uriah Hall didn't like his UFC 187 opponent, Rafael Natal. He said so during an interview this week. And he got in Natal's face during weigh-ins Friday.
Upon entering the octagon at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday night, Hall began the customary jog around the cage. He stopped in front of Natal, about six feet away, and bounced in unison with him.
Latest MMA stories
It was Hall's way of letting Natal know he's here to fight. Natal let Hall know he was not here to be intimidated when, five seconds in the fight, he threw the first strike -- a right leg kick landing square on Hall's groin.
Hall was given the customary time to recover. When he did, he showcased a variety of flashy and effective leg kicks in the first round.
The two New Yorkers continued to battle rather evenly through three rounds, with Natal winning a split decision. The judges scored it 29-28, 28-29, 29-28 in favor of Natal. It's the third straight win by decision for Natal.
"I'm not really sure what happened in the last couple days that led to the animosity," Natal said. "Uriah grew up in New York, I live in New York and I guess it turned into a competition of who would better represent New York. He was trying to prove that he was better, I don't like that type of stuff, but this is fighting and it happens sometimes, even though it's really not my thing. I'd rather do my talking in the Octagon."
For Hall (11-5), who negated Natal's superior Brazilian jiujitsu skills for all but two minutes in the second round, it stopped his three-fight win streak.
Natal (20-6-1) offered a handshake after the bout, but Hall shoved him out of the way and walked out of the octagon.
"Let's see what's next, maybe Michael Bisping," Natal said. "He's been talking bad about me."