The UFC had been teasing a brutal knockout ever since this season of The Ultimate Fighter started, and unlike so many things the UFC hypes up, Uriah Hall’s KO of Adam Cella lived up to that hype. What made the KO so vicious wasn’t just that the kick landed flush, it was that Hall really whipped the kick and put a ton of torque on it. The result was a kick that was even nastier than the one Edson Barboza landed against Terry Etim.
While I do consider Hall one of the favorites to win this season of TUF, it was far from a perfect performance for him. I’m not a huge fan of Hall’s go-to striking defense of lifting his chin and backing up, and I would have liked to see him not take as many strikes from Cella as he did. Don’t get me wrong, Hall absolutely was winning the fight, unlike what some have suggested, but he’ll need to improve his striking defense for me to think he’s a potential title contender in the UFC.
Last week, I remarked that it seemed that Team Sonnen knew what it was doing, and Team Jones didn’t. I feel even more strongly about that now. We all have our opinions of Chael Sonnen’s methods of self-promotion, but watching him sit down and talk to Hall was genuinely fascinating. Going into this season, I thought TUF was going to be all about Sonnen just talking trash and getting under Jones’s skin, not unlike the 12th season with Josh Koscheck and Georges St-Pierre. Instead, Sonnen is focusing on being a coach first and foremost, and while that may make some people disappointed, for me, it’s made TUF a lot more enjoyable than I thought it was going to be.
Sonnen continued to affirm my belief that he’s the superior coach by calling out Collin Hart to fight Kevin Casey. Hart is the single lowest-rated fighter in my ratings, and was called out one fight after Sonnen called out Cella, who was the second-lowest fighter in my ratings. Speaking of those, let’s look at the ratings right now:
- Zak Cummings – 8.022 (Team Sonnen)
- Uriah Hall – 7.383 (Sonnen)
- Tor Troeng – 7.348 (Sonnen)
- Luke Barnatt – 7.127 (Sonnen)
- Josh Samman – 7.009 (Jones)
- Dylan Andrews – 6.532 (Jones)
- Robert McDaniel – 6.421 (Jones)
- Kevin Casey – 6.234 (Sonnen)
- Clint Hester – 5.995 (Jones)
Gilbert Smith – 5.917 (Jones)
- Jimmy Quinlan – 5.893 (Sonnen)
- Kelvin Gastelum – 5.655 (Sonnen)
Adam Cella – 5.428 (Jones)
- Collin Hart – 5.154 (Jones)
Kevin Casey vs. Collin Hart
For somebody who is a cast member on TUF, Casey has had an interesting career in MMA. His debut was against none other than the very colorful Ikuhisa Minowa, a fighter who usually fights opponents who are either far, far better than him, or far, far bigger than him. Casey was neither, and Minowa was able to stop him by TKO. Casey is also known for a TKO loss to Matt Lindland at a Strikeforce Challengers show. His best wins are first-round submissions of Jimmy Mills (9-2) and Chad Vance (7-5). Overall, by TUF standards, Casey’s record is decent, but not spectacular. By contrast, Collin Hart is 4-1-1, with wins against Tramain Smith (3-7), Mike Arellano (3-10), Steve Goedert (1-1), and Steve Alexander (0-2). Hart has yet to win a fight against anybody as good as any of the TUF 17 cast.
Casey has trained Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Rickson Gracie, so he should absolutely be expected to look for submissions in this fight. Casey is also infamous for promoting himself to a black belt and getting temporarily banned from Gracie’s school. But Casey is genuinely a brown belt under Gracie, and that’s not insignificant. My model gives Casey a 75 percent chance of beating Hart in this fight, so look for Casey to get the job done in tonight’s episode and give Team Sonnen a commanding 3-0 lead.