LAS VEGAS - Leading into each of his past three fights, Uriah Hall heard the same set of questions.
The order of the words may vary a bit, but their meaning doesn’t. All want to know why those monster knockouts they saw on Season 17 of “The Ultimate Fighter” have been seen there and there only.
Latest MMA stories
“The world knows that I don’t like to hurt people,” Hall told Newsday earlier this week. “I’ve been struggling with that killer instinct that everyone says I need. But what I realized is that I didn’t have a killer instinct on ‘The Ultimate Fighter.’ I was just very technical, very methodical.”
He showed all three Saturday night, plus some flashy spinning kicks and punches. He brought a new toughness and aggressiveness into the cage and won a unanimous decision over Thiago Santos. The judges scored it 29-28, 29-28, 30-27.
The second toe on Hall’s right foot appeared to be pointing in a different direction after the first round than it did this morning. He walked it off to show the cage-side doctor that he was fine. He did the same in the second round, although it appeared to take a few extra words from Hall.
“I was brought up to face it if it comes at you,” an emotional Hall said. “Every movement, I would feel my bone shift out of my skin.”
Hall (10-4, 2-2 UFC) pushed the pace the entire fight, mixing in good punching with effective kicks. His feints managed to keep Santos off guard at times as well.
Late in the third round, Santos (9-3, 1-2) delivered a groin strike to Hall. The fight was paused for Hall to regain his composure, per the rules of the sport. When the fight resumed, Santos got Hall pinned against the cage face first. Hall was able to turn it into a submission attempt in the final seconds.
"I love Uriah Hall," UFC president Dana White said. "I like the kid professionally and personally. It was good to see him let his hands go tonight and fight through a broken toe."