Three monster knockouts in three attempts turned previously unknown Uriah Hall into something of a legend on Season 17 of "The Ultimate Fighter."
Expectations were understandably high for the Queens-based Hall heading into Saturday night's Ultimate Finale at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. They were expectations that Hall said he didn't want to have to live up to. This way, he could just focus on winning his fight and earning a guaranteed six-figure contract with the UFC.
Kelvin Gastelum did a good job tempering those expectations for Hall. The 21-year-old Gastelum, the youngest competitor in "TUF" history, took the fight to Hall. He connected with a number of overhand lefts throughout the fight. He took down Hall several times as well.
Heck, Gastelum lasted all three rounds and avoided being on the wrong end of a Uriah Hall highlight. No one else managed to do that this season.
And no one was able to beat Hall during the show. But this wasn't the show, it was The Show.
Gastelum beat Hall by split decision, with two judges scoring it 29-28 in his favor. Hall won, 29-28, on the third judge's card.
“I’m speechless right now obviously I’m happy but I’m kind of hurting because it was a tough fight," Gastelum said. "My eye hurts a bit and he got a couple kicks in that did some damage but I’ll heal up just fine."
Hall didn't show as much of the offensive flair this fight that viewers of "TUF" saw throughout the show. He fought with his hands down much of the time and didn't put together many flurries of strikes.
The most impressive display of Hall's athleticism, though, came in the third round after Gastelum (7-0) took him down. Hall was able to escape out the back, reverse and take down Gastelum and land a series of punches to his grounded opponent. The whole exchange lasted about 20 seconds but it was quick and effective for Hall (8-3).
Still, Gastelum took down Hall later in the third round and ultimately won that round of two of the three judges' cards.
"It’s a great feeling," Gastelum said, "and I’m looking forward to taking a little time off and then getting back to training.”