Sean Strickland oozed confidence prior to his middleweight fight with Uriah Hall on Saturday at Apex in Las Vegas. When the bell rang, the world saw why he believed in himself so heavily.
Strickland dominated Hall, his one-time training partner, pummeling him with a jab and hurting him at several points in the fight, in the best performance of his career in the biggest spot of his career, in the main event of UFC Vegas 33.
Strickland won a unanimous decision by scores of 50-44, 50-45 and 49-46, beating Hall in one-sided fashion by standing directly in front of him and beating him to the punch regularly. Yahoo Sports scored it 50-44 for Strickland.
Strickland nearly finished Hall in the third round, catching him with an overhand right on the top of the head that left Hall wobbly. Strickland took him down and was landing big shots on the ground.
He showed little respect for Hall, though he said he had been a long-time fan of Hall’s and had developed an admiration for him over the years.
“He scared me,” Strickland said. “I came up watching his highlights.”
All of the highlights were recorded by Strickland on Saturday. He closed the distance and was right in front of Hall, who was fighting on his 37th birthday. He had a high output, throwing a huge amount of punches — mostly jabs — in the early going. The jab caused Hall’s left eye to close and it was difficult for him to see.
Hall was never able to get off any consistent offense, even though his corner was imploring with him to pick it up and go for a finish as he fell behind.
Strickland took the fight to the cage in the second half and had success there, as well. At one point, he had Hall’s back and was going for a rear-naked choke, but Hall was able to fight it off.
But it was the kind of performance that served notice on the division. In ending Hall’s four-fighting winning streak, Strickland established himself as a legitimate contender in the division after spending much of his career as a welterweight.
Before the fight, he told Yahoo Sports that he struggled to cut down to the welterweight division’s 171-pound limit for non-title fights.
“I didn’t go to fight camp, I went to fat camp,” he said.
But at middleweight, he’s found the perfect division and looked strong and confident. He entered the bout ranked No. 11 and figures to move into the Top 10 given he defeated the No. 8 Hall in such one-sided fashion.
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