Uriah Hall and Anderson Silva both knelt down on the mat, head to head, and clasped each other’s hands. Both got emotional showing the other respect following a hard-fought UFC bout. Blood poured from Silva’s face.
“I love you,” Hall told Silva. “You’re still one of the greatest.”
Hall stopped Silva via TKO at 1 minutes, 24 seconds of the fourth round Saturday in the main event of UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas. Hall clipped Silva, widely considered one of the greatest fighters in MMA history, with a right hand and then finished with a flurry on the ground.
The bout was billed by the promotion as Silva’s last fight in the UFC, and Silva said afterward that it was his “last show for the UFC fans and the UFC family.” However, when asked if this would be his final MMA fight, he did not commit to it being the end.
“I don’t know,” Silva said. “First, I go back home and go see with my team and everything. Let’s see. Because it’s tough to say it’s my last or not. This is my air. This is what I do for my entire life and with my heart. Let’s go see.”
After the card, UFC president Dana White told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto that he thinks it’s time for Silva to “hang it up,” adding that if he wants to continue his MMA career it won’t be with the UFC. Silva, 45, has one more fight left on his UFC contract and has said that he would compete elsewhere if the UFC didn’t want him back.
White said he and Silva had a deal before Saturday’s fight was signed that it would be Silva’s last fight. The UFC boss said he hopes Silva goes home and his family talks him into hanging up the gloves. White said he regrets letting Silva fight Saturday.
“I made a big mistake,” White said. “I shouldn’t have let him fight this fight tonight. But out of respect for him — he’s a legend of this sport, a legend of this company — I did something I didn’t agree with. … Anderson Silva should never fight again.”
White said Hall is “one of the most gun-shy fighters in the UFC” and if Silva continues to fight it could be dangerous.
“You fight any of these other savages, [Silva will] be in big trouble and he’ll take a s—load of punishment,” White said.
White said he isn’t sure if the UFC will release Silva from his contract, but acknowledged that other promotions would likely sign Silva if he were released. White said it would be “disgusting” if an athletic commission continues to allow Silva to compete.
“I’ll never let him fight here again,” White said. “I want him to retire. I hope when he goes home, his family tells him the same thing. … He’s almost 46 years old. Unless you’re trying to defend your f—ing life or defend your family, no 46-year-old should ever be fighting. Period.”
Silva was extremely game in defeat, especially given his age. The first round was the best fans have seen from Silva in years. He dictated the pace and blitzed in with good combinations. Silva had some success in the second and third rounds.
In fact, the third was his best round of the fight — until the end. Silva hurt Hall’s left eye with a quick jab in the third and landed the harder shots. But right before the bell, Hall dropped Silva with a right hand to the ear and nearly finished with shots on the ground. Silva was saved by the bell.
Perhaps that was foreshadowing for the fourth round. Silva was aggressive in that round, coming forward with combinations and kicks. But Silva left himself open, and Hall capitalized with the right hand and then the finishing blows.
“I was just honored to share that moment with him,” Hall said in his postfight interview.
As the two were crouched down in the Octagon, Silva said to Hall, “Enjoy your moment today, OK? Thank you so much. Thank you for doing this for me.”
The card took place in front of no fans at the UFC Apex, a venue across the street from the UFC’s corporate campus.
Hall (16-9) has won three straight and four of his past five. The Jamaica native, who trains out of Fortis MMA in Dallas, was once touted as potentially the next Silva following a highlight-reel spinning back kick knockout on “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show in 2013. Hall, 36, has won seven of his nine UFC victories by KO/TKO. His seven UFC middleweight knockouts is tied for third in division history. Silva and Thiago Santos are tied for first with eight, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information.
Silva (34-11, 1 NC) owns the longest title reign (2,457 days) and longest winning streak (16) in UFC history. The Brazilian “Spider” is tied for first with the most knockouts in UFC history (11), as well. Silva owns victories over the likes of Vitor Belfort, Dan Henderson, Rich Franklin (twice) and Chael Sonnen (twice). He held the UFC middleweight title between 2006 to 2013.
But the past seven years have been difficult for the all-time great. Silva had just one victory since 2013 and has failed two drug tests, though he was cleared of wrongdoing in the second one.
“Today, Uriah was the best,” Silva said. “He came to win the fight. I’m enjoying my moment. Sometimes, it’s very difficult for us to stop. But today is the final day and I am so happy to be here and doing my last show for the UFC fans and the UFC family.”
If it truly is the end for Silva in the UFC, Hall said he was honored to share in that moment.
“I can’t really describe it,” Hall said. “It’s just so any emotions. He’s done so much for the sport.”