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While there have been flashes of brilliance in the past, they were often followed by disappointing outings; moments that felt like the start of something special being turned into lamentations about “what could have been” after another inconsistent showing.

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“It’s a mind game, and if I can really, really be honest about this: fighting is 90 percent mental and I’m going to admit it — I’ve doubted myself so many times, in so many fights,” Hall said, his voice carrying flecks of excitement the way his beard now carries hints of grey. “When I lost to Chris Weidman, I didn’t lose to Chris Weidman because I dropped my hands — I lost to Chris Weidman because I defeated myself before that fight.”

Hall and Weidman first crossed paths in the fall of 2010, when both were emerging talents on the treacherous East Coast regional scene. He was 4-0 at the time, with four finishes, and the reigning, defending Ring of Combat middleweight champion, while Weidman was a former collegiate wrestler training with the Serra-Longo Fight Team that had earned first-round finishes in each of his first two fights.

Heading into the fight, all Hall heard about was Weidman’s wrestling — that he was going to take him down, that he was going to look to grind him out, that he didn’t want any part of engaging on the feet — and it got into his head.

“Prior to that I was knocking everybody out,” said Hall, who went 10-0 as a kickboxer in addition to his early MMA exploits. “I did not give a **** — that was my mentality. I was fighting dudes that were so good and I was beating their *** because I didn’t care, and I got away from that mentality because I allowed fear to get in my head.”

Weidman won the first by technical knockout just over three minutes into the first round.

“Fear is like this little drop of poison that if you put it in a bucket of water — it contaminates the whole thing, and that’s what happened to me for most of my life.

“I allowed fear to grip me. I allowed fear to hold me back. I allowed fear to say, ‘Yeah Uriah, maybe you’re not that good. Yeah Uriah, maybe you could never be a champ. Yeah Uriah, maybe this is not for you. Yeah Uriah, you actually suck.’

 


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