Most people don't use the word "fun" to describe voluntarily walking into a combat session with former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida. Of course, Manhattan's Uriah Hall is not like most people.
Hall, a finalist on Season 17 of "The Ultimate Fighter," left Tiger Schulmann's MMA in New Jersey to train with Reign MMA in California for his fight this Saturday against John Howard at UFC on Fox Sports 1. During his time in the Los Angeles area, Hall found himself at Blackhouse Gym as well, home to Anderson Silva, Machida and others.
"For me, it was fun to work with a phenomenal guy like Machida," Hall said. "I was in
awe. I had to snap out of it and focus or else I¹d get knocked out."
Machida (19-4) comes from a karate background, as does Hall (8-3). Few fighters other than Machida have been able to succesfully incorporate the karate discipline into mixed martial arts. The typical comment from Machida's opponents goes something like this: "You're not going to find anyone in sparring who can mimic what Machida does."
Was sparring with a karate guy, after years of going against MMA fighters, weird for Hall?
"No, not at all," he said. "In this sport, you have to evolve. Karate is the base where I came from, so it was just going back to it. It wasn¹t weird at all."
The are several sparring videos on YouTube (all of which were shot on smartphones held vertically), and one edited (and horizontal) video of Machida and Hall at Blackhouse Gym.
There could have been one more, too.
"My buddy who was supposed to record it, he was watching the whole time," Hall said. "He said, 'Man, it was so cool, i forgot to press the button."