John Howard is the third opponent scheduled to fight Uriah Hall when the UFC debuts on Fox Sports 1 on Saturday.
After Nick Ring and Josh Samman pulled out with injuries, Howard was tabbed in the middle of July to face the Manhattan-based Hall, a finalist on last season of "The Ultimate Fighter."
During an interview on WAAF in Boston earlier this month, Howard made some critical comments about Hall.
"Fighting Uriah Hall, I think he's good. A little overrated," Howard told the radio station. "He knocked out some guys with some flashy stuff. That's good, it's impressive, but my thing is, who did he fight? He fought 'Ultimate Fighter' fighters. What people have to understand is these guys are not legit UFC fighters; they're guys who are trying to be a UFC fighter. Let's switch sides, let me be Uriah Hall, put me in the house. What do you think would happen? Not only do I have knockouts in the UFC, I have knockouts throughout my career. I have more knockouts than him. And the people I knocked out were more creditable."
Aggressive words from Howard (20-8, 4-3 UFC), a Boston native returning to the UFC after two years and six wins (in seven fights) in smaller, regional promotions. Howard has nine wins by knockout/TKO in his career, only two of which came in the UFC (Daniel Roberts and Dennis Hallman, who are a combined 7-9 in UFC bouts).
Hall (8-3, 0-1) made a name for himself during Season 17 of "The Ultimate Fighter" with a series of thunderous knockouts that sent Internet traffic through the roof and his opponents to the hospital.
"It's funny how you can say 'TUF' guys are not legitimate," Hall said. "For one, all the -- -- we had to go through. For two, you didn't make it there, so you can't even say -- -- ."
Fighters on the UFC's reality competition show must fight their way through three opponents over the span of six to eight weeks in order to reach the finale a few months later.
Hall understands where Howard was coming from when he made those comments.
"It's his comeback, and it's his hometown," Hall said. "So he has somewhat of an advantage now to say whatever he wants. He's hyped, he's excited. I'm gonna give him all of that. I don't need to trash talk. I pretty much do that when I go in there. The best way to do that is to shut the crowd up by showing what I got. So, the 17th, I guess I just have to shut everybody up. It's that simple."