Tonight, Uriah Hall faces Kelvin Gastelum in the middleweight final of The Ultimate Fighter. Hall is an up-and-comer in top flight mixed martial arts, thought to be a contender in a middleweight division whose title holder is Anderson Silva, one of the best fighters in the world. But how Hall got to this stage is even more remarkable. His training regimen included Tekken.
That's according to Hall himself in this video, a feature by Vice magazine's Fightland section. He impressed observers in a tryout who wanted to know where he developed his moves. "I said, 'I never trained before.' I was embarrassed to say that I played Tekken all day, copied the moves and that’s how I learned."
Tekken may be stylized combat but some of its moves are faithful to real-world fighting styles. Hall, obviously, isn't talking about practicing combos IRL, more that the animations—and watching them repeatedly—helped him visualize something he wished to do in real life.
And he does that very well. At 1:00 of this video you can see him flatten Adam Cella with a spinning heel kick to the kisser in the third episode of The Ultimate Fighter, on Feb. 5.
"I’d go into practice mode and have the computer just spar me back and forth like regular training. I would just keep playing until I see something that I'd do or I like, and I would just pick up on it. For me, I don't know, visually it was almost as if my body just adjusted to it, so when it came time to spar moves that I would see would come back, like that!
“Every time I would see a cool move on Tekken, I would just practice it till I got good at it. When I did it in training people said, ‘what the hell is that!’” Cella would have said that, if he had been conscious.
The Ultimate Fighter Finale is tonight at 9 p.m. EDT and PDT on FX.