UFC Featherweight Ryan Hall will finally make a return to the Octagon in an epic clash against Ricardo Lamas at UFC Oklahoma. The search for an opponent finally came to a stop, when Lamas stepped in to face the much-feared and highly distinguished grappler. The bout will mark Hall's third appearance in the UFC, keeping The Ultimate Fighter aside, after a ten-month absence from the cage. It will be Hall's fifth professional fight under UFC in more than four years of performing for the organization.
"It's been a little bit of a struggle to find an opponent. I've been directly turned down or been told that they're unavailable from ranked #12 all the way down to #6." Hall addressed the situation on Ariel Helwani's MMA Show.
Why are fighters turning down Ryan Hall?
Ryan Hall is an elite grappler. He has numerous remarkable achievements to his name. The Ultimate Fighter Season 22 Lightweight winner, is an ADCC North American Champion, and IBJJF world champion. He is a two-time World Jiu-Jitsu Champion and also a Chicago Open and Miami Open gold medallist. Hall is also a distinguished black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and a gold medallist in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu world championship.
With brilliant performances in various grappling and Jiu-Jitsu competitions, Hall is considered as one of the most dominant grapplers inside UFC. Due to his ability to force submission via unique and improvised holds and locks, Hall has established himself as a feared opponent among the featherweights.
Ryan Hall has notable victories over former champion BJ Penn, and title contender Gray Maynard. Hall beat Artem Lobov via unanimous decision to win the Ultimate Fighter Season 22, back in 2015, with his most recent victory coming against Darren Elkins in July 2019.
In the past, Ryan Hall has called out the likes of Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar to no avail. He has also expressed an interest in fighting submission specialist Brian Ortega. Hall remains one of the very few accomplished fighters who has been unable to find a footing inside UFC, due to a lack of opponents.
What seems to be the concern?
The trend indicates, the featherweight division has always been a dogfight in one way or another. The present top 10 ranked fighters are mostly strikers who like to keep the game on the feet. Most of the featherweights let the punches and leg kicks do most of the talking. At a time when the top 5 ranked fighters are all equally worthy of a title fight, it seems unlikely that any fighter will decide to step in for a stylistically mismatched opponent like Ryan Hall.
As for Ricardo Lamas, it is a fight that can bring him up the ranking table yet again, if he can get past Hall. He is currently not ranked in the division. Lamas has lost three of his last four bouts and will look to capitalize on this opportunity to get his name in the top 15 once again. Hall might have to wait for a similar opportunity to come out from a ranked fighter to get his name on the top.
Additionally, with Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar no longer competing at the Featherweight division, other fighters will look to find a fight that is more stylistically suited for them, to come closer to the featherweight gold.
Ryan Hall is #14 in the Featherweight rankings, and a ranked opponent can certainly push him up the ranks. If Hall can climb the ranks, it will be difficult for other fighters to turn him down.