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Uriah Hall and the Curse of the TUF Runner-Up

Uriah Hall and the Curse of the TUF Runner-Up

Uriah Hall will return to the Octagon next Saturday at UFC 168. It’s his third appearance since his strong showing on the 17th season of The Ultimate Fighter.

You’d think it might be a bigger deal.

Hall was hailed “the most dangerous striker in the history of The Ultimate Fighter” by UFC President Dana White. He knocked out all three of his opponents after earning his spot on the show.

But, unfortunately, Hall lost his bout at the TUF 17 finale, and then his second official UFC fight in August.

More unfortunately, it seems no one is noticing.

In fact, Hall’s fight at UFC 168 is not scheduled to be on the Pay-Per-View broadcast, and will instead be televised on Fox Sports 1 among the evening’s preliminary bouts.

That night, Hall will face Chris Leben, the original bad boy of The Ultimate Fighter’s first season, now in the role of old veteran looking to test an up-and-comer.

So, what happened?

Hall had a couple of tough (split) decision losses, sure. He’s still got potential and is officially only eleven fights into an MMA career.

It just seems, there’s been a few of these now. A few runners-up whose careers just didn’t quite pan out as we’d hoped.

I’m not thinking so much of fighters like Josh Haynes and Brad Imes, who fought valiantly in the role of underdog, making often-unlikely runs to the finals of their TUF seasons. They didn’t turn into superstars, but that wasn’t expected.

Here are three examples of what someone more superstitious than I might call the TUF runner-up curse:

Manny Gamburyan (left) battles Cole Miller.

Manny Gamburyan (left) battles Cole Miller.

Remember Manny Gamburyan?  He didn’t just make the finals of The Ultimate Fighter season 5. He ran through some excellent fighters, including Joe Lauzon. “The Anvil” entered the TUF 5 finale against Nate Diaz a slight favorite by many odds-makers. At that point, he was 6-1 as a pro in MMA, and seemed to have as bright a future as anyone on the cast.

He would lose via submission to Diaz, due to what seemed a freak injury, and struggled to recover — ending up with a .500 record in years to come. While he got in there with the best and scored some solid wins, including a three fight winning streak in the WEC and a recent win over Cole Miller, it’s safe to say he hasn’t quite made the impact on the sport that many expected.

Tommy Speer is another. Speer pounded out a future contender in George Sotiropoulos in the sixth season of TUF to make the finals and looked to be a solid performer in years to come. Then, after losing in short order to Mac Danzig in the final, he was knocked senseless by Anthony Johnson and cut from the UFC.

He’s toiled in obscurity ever since.

Philipe Nover of TUF season 8 was hailed by Dana White as showing the potential to be the next pound-for-pound entrant in MMA. White described the then-undefeated Nover as “the next Anderson Silva” before the season began; “a Georges St-Pierre” of the lightweight division.  In the finale, Nover found himself defending off his back at the hands of a better wrestler in Efrain Escudero. He would lose that decision, then come up short in two more UFC appearances before being cut from the roster.

So what gives? Is there something about making it to the finals and falling short, or is it all coincidence? Let us know in comments!

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