UFC 187 Fight Breakdown: Uriah Hall vs. Rafael Natal

Hall-Uriah-TUF17-1-hs One of the prelims at UFC 187 is a three-round middleweight bout between Uriah Hall and Rafael Natal. According to the current betting lines available at Several Bookmakers, Hall is a -400 favorite (bet $400 to win $100) while Natal is a +325 underdog (bet $100 to win $325). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened up Hall at -210 and Natal at +160, and the public is all over Hall so far. I agree that Hall is the favorite, although I this point I’m wondering if the line is too high. Here’s why. Hall (10-4) was the runner-up on TUF 17 and has since gone on to post a 3-2 record in the UFC with win over Ron Stallings, Chris Leben and Thiago Santos with losses to John Howard and Kelvin Gastelum. The 30-year-old Jamaican-American is a vicious striker who is known for his one-strike knockout power. He has big-time power in all of his limbs and has finished eight of his 10 opponents in his wins, including six by T/KO. He also has solid wrestling for the most part, and from what we’ve seen he has a solid chin and cardio as well. As for his flaws, he doesn’t have the best strike defence and he can also have periods of inactivity in his fights, which have cost him in the past in his close decision losses to Howard and Gastelum. Hall has looked very good as of late, winning his late three fights in a row, and looks to have turned the page on his earlier failures in the Octagon. Keep in mind, though, that he’s been fighting mid-to-low level middleweights lately, so it’s hard to take much away from his wins. He’s looked good, but until he gets a win over a top middleweight it’s hard to consider him a top contender at 185lbs. But he’s well on his way to getting a top-15 opponent, and win over Natal would likely earn him that chance. Natal (19-6-1) is 7-4-1 in the UFC with wins over Chris Camozzi, Tom Watson, Tor Troeng, Joao Zeferino, Sean Spencer, Michael Kuiper and Paul Bradley with losses to Tim Kennedy, Rich Attonito, Ed Herman and Andrew Craig with a draw against Jesse Bongfeldt. The 32-year-old Brazilian comes from a BJJ background and not surprisingly has eight career submissions to his credit. He is excellent on the mat if it gets there and is capable of subbing most mid-tier 185lbers. Natal also has surprisingly good takedowns and he has been improving his striking over the years. He’s a very well-rounded fighter, and underrated in many regards. However, he has an iffy chin and bad strike defence and it’s cost him numerous times in the past. He’s been knocked out in four of his six losses and going up against a powerful striker like Hall, you can see why the betting public thinks that might happen again here. Natal is a solid fighter, but you can’t fix a chin, and that’s why he’s such a big underdog despite his talents and his advantage on the ground in this matchup. This should be Hall’s fight to win or lose. He’s the better striker, he has more power, and he should have the takedown defence to dictate where this fight takes place. By all accounts, he should be able to find Natal’s chin and knock him out. Having said that, Natal is a solid fighter and if he doesn’t get knocked out he’ll have a shot here as he will likely be the more active fighter in this contest and he also has the advantage on the ground. But that chin is just awful and it makes him hard to pick in this spot, even against an inconsistent fighter like Hall. I’m not surprised at all that Hall got steamed up by the betting public here, though. In nearly every UFC fight he’s had he’s been steamed to crazy numbers, and I thought the opening number was a tad low. Having said that, 4-to-1 for Hall is pretty pricey considering his flaws. I do think Hall wins, and he probably does so by knockout, but I don’t see much value in the line, so I’ll pass.

Written by Adam Martin.

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