The devastating finish was reminiscent of Edson Barboza’s 2012 “Knockout of the Year” over Terry Etim. The kick not only sent Cella to the hospital, but virtually guarantees Hall the $25,000 “Knockout of the Season” bonus.
Uriah Hall (7-2 Pro Record, Team Tiger Schulmann, Team Sonnen Pick No. 2) vs. Adam Cella (4-0, Finney’s HIT Squad, Team Jones Pick No. 6)
Stylistically, this matchup seemed to benefit Hall’s flashy style from the moment it was announced.
Despite the mismatch, Cella still had moments of success with his aggressive approach. Hall was addressing some inner-confidence issues ahead of this bout, so Cella’s mental strength was his biggest asset. Sonnen put it best when he called Hall his own worst enemy.
Cella pressured, moving forward and winging punches, some of which found their target. He traded jabs in exchanges, but his inability to close the distance coupled with the massive disparity in kickboxing technique were the difference makers.
Hall was able to separate easily when Cella came forward. Hall was also the savvier fighter in the clinch, overpowering his smaller foe and landing devastating knees. As the round progressed, Cella’s pace slowed, which gave Hall the opportunity to find his range before landing the highlight reel kick.
Hall’s gas tank has yet to come into play, but it could be an instrumental factor as he progresses in his fight career, mainly because his kick-oriented style exerts a significant amount of cardio. His takedown defense and grappling are also question marks, but they were non-factors in this fight.
Cella did everything he could, earning the praise of coach Jones for his brief spurts of offese, but he simply wasn’t on Hall’s level. Lacking the wrestling pedigree to truly test Hall, any strategy Cella could employ would ultimately play into his opponent’s hands.
From experience to skill, from speed to strength, every area seemed to favor the early season favorite Hall. Simply put, Cella was overmatched.
Kevin Casey (5-2, Rickson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, Team Sonnen Pick No. 6) vs. Collin Hart (4-1, Nor-Cal Fighting Alliance, Team Jones Pick No. 5)
Interestingly, the outspoken 31-year-old Rickson Gracie student Casey had no qualms about seemingly dodging a challenge from Team Jones’ Robert “Bubba” McDaniel.
Casey will instead put his submission wizardry to the test against the 23-year-old Hart, who earned his spot in the house with a first-round submission of Mike Jasper.
Meanwhile, Casey, whose two professional setbacks were stoppages at the hands of Ikuhisa Minowa and Matt Lindland, submitted Eldon Sproat to advance.
It was actually surprising to see a recognizable name like Casey go so late in the team selections. It was an ever bigger shocker that he landed on Sonnen’s roster.
A close friend and longtime student of Lindland’s, Sonnen is likely already familiar with Casey’s exploits as a dangerous Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. Perhaps those less familiar with Casey’s professional fighting career may be acquainted with his music video, which features Spencer Pratt.
It’s no secret Casey is a largely one-dimensional combatant, relying on his extensive grappling background to play the submission game.
This was an excellent pairing by Sonnen as Hart is primarily a wrestler. He’s unlikely to threaten Casey in exchanges with his limited striking. Should the fight go to the ground, Casey’s superior technique will shine through.
Casey has a long way to go before becoming a well-rounded fighter. But he should benefit from a fight that poses no major stylistic threats. Whether it means taking Hart down or pulling guard, Casey will be targeting a fight-ending submission.
Verdict: Casey via submission