Uriah Hall using Israel Adesanya fight hopes as motivation before UFC Vegas 33 main event

uriah hall
Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

A win over Sean Strickland, in the main event of UFC Vegas 33, may not jump Uriah Hall from his spot at eight in the rankings into a title opportunity. However, a victory over the eleventh-ranked talent, and a fifth straight W, could surely put the New York native in striking distance of a shot against the champion Israel Adesanya. And that possibility is Hall’s motivation heading into his bout on July 31.

Uriah Hall shooting for Israel Adesanya fight soon with win at UFC Vegas 33

“Izzy’s more of a motivation. I have nothing bad to say about him. He’s the champ. He worked his butt off to get there. I definitely understand that style very well because I see how he outclassed a lot of these guys, and they’re just one-dimensional when they approach him. Of course, Sean is in my way. I can’t take that away and look past him because that’ll be stupid, and every fight is dangerous. I still have Izzy on my mind as a motivation to get to him, but to get to him I’ve got to get through Sean,” Hall said in an interview for UFC.com

Hall, 36, and his opponent actually have a history. The pair have trained together previously at both Kings MMA and Xtreme Couture. The Ultimate Fighter season 17 finalist recalls those clashes with Strickland, 30 because they were the moments that personified the toughness “Tarzan” brings to his fights and training.

“If I could sum Sean up, and I’m sure everybody would agree with me, it was never an easy sparring session. It was always a match. It was like, alright let’s spar, and it turned into a fight. Of course, a lot of guys would be like, ‘Dude, what are you doing?’ Hall said with a laugh. “But all I know about him, for the most part, is he’s a tough guy, and I expect that from him.”

uriah hall
Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Hall not overlooking a very ‘tough’ Sean Strickland

Those hard-fought sparring sessions are what made “Primetime” a bit wary when the fight was originally booked. However, his coaches at Fortis MMA put his mind at ease by explaining those battles were years ago, and both men are far different than the fighters they were back then.

“I remember when it was first announced, I was like, ‘Ah man, he’s going to be a tough fight.’ My coaches were like, ‘When was the last time you trained with him?’ [And he said], ‘four or five years ago.’ And they were like, ‘Yea, for our five years ago.’ So it’s not thinking about that because he’s definitely a new version of himself in his own way, and I feel like I’m a new version [too]. It’s just about who’s going to impose the will,” said Hall.

Hall expects a challenge on Saturday night in the UFC Apex and is not looking past the Octagon veteran. But his motivation to get the victory on fight night is because he has his eyes on a certain golden New Zealander prize.

“I have what [Strickland] wants. He wants to take my spot. He’s got what I need, I need to beat him pretty much. I definitely want a top-five ranking. I’m trying to get to Izzy [Israel Adesanya]. I feel like I’ve been training for him for a while now. Ever since he got in the UFC,” he said.

UFC Vegas 33 takes place on July 31 and will air on both ESPN and ESPN+. The prelims begin at 6 pm ET, with the main card following at 9 pm ET.

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