Gegard Mousasi didn’t mince words after his second-round TKO of Vitor Belfort at UFC 204 in October. The veteran had just won his third straight contest, his fifth win in six tries since the start of 2015 with a loss to Uriah Hall as the only blemish.
“Uriah Hall was a fluke, anyone that knows anything about this sport knows it was a fluke,” Mousasi said. “So I hope to get that rematch one day.”
Mousasi laid out two options: He would wait for a fight against a top-four opponent in his division, all of whom were booked, or he would take an “easy” fight against Hall.
He received the latter. After Gunnar Nelson pulled out of the main event of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 99 in late October, Mousasi and Hall were booked as the new headliners for the Nov. 19 event in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Hall, who grew up in Queens, has lost his last two bouts since the highlight-reel finish over Mousasi and was not insulted by his opponent’s notion that their previous result was a fluke.
“No, he did what he had to do to get his rematch, I’m sure I hurt his career,” Hall told Newsday. “He was top-five or ranked high. It’s good for a fighter to believe in himself, good for him.”
Mousasi was vocal in wanting this fight, but Hall seemed rather indifferent to facing the veteran striker for a second time. Still, he understands why Mousasi wanted the bout and why more fighters are calling their own shots in matchmaking.
“Absolutely, it’s all about leverage,” Hall said. “You pick your fights to get to the top, everybody’s doing it.”
This is one of the biggest stages yet for Hall, who is fighting in the main event for the first time in his UFC career. He doesn’t believe the spotlight will change how he fights, saying “the environment changes but the act doesn’t” and that staying consistent will be key to lasting a full five rounds.
Hall thinks he’ll have an advantage in the fight thanks to what he picked up in the previous battle.
“Bring the fight to him, do what he does and do it better. Everybody backs up when they fight Gegard,” Hall said. “He knows if he comes forward he’s going to get caught, he’s probably a little petrified from that kick, but that could be part of the game plan too, I like to mix it up to be honest.”
With a win over Mousasi already under his belt, it’s not the best situation for Hall to advance his standing in the division, but after two straight losses, he’s ready for the challenge ahead.
“Well, in order to make it to the top, you have to take care of whoever’s in front of you, so with this fight, he gets leverage,” Hall said. “Whoever they want to throw at me, I’d rather the best guys, and then we’ll see what happens from there. Just have to knock out whoever is in front of you, try to get ahead. You win fights, you go places.”