Ryan Hall and Matt Serra Talk Jiu-Jitsu, Match-Making, Entertainment, and More

On Saturday at UFC 264, jiu-jitsu specialist Ryan Hall will make his much-anticipated return to the Octagon following a two-year lay-off when he faces undefeated prospect Ilia Topuria. With his 8-1 record and prodigious submission skills, Hall has been a bit of an enigma in MMA. His jiu-jitsu based style has fans either loving or hating him, but either way he is undeniably approaching MMA in a way that is uniquely his own.

Ahead of his fight at UFC 264, Ryan Hall sat down with Matt Serra and Jim Norton on the UFC Unfiltered Podcast. The group touched on a wide variety of topics, ranging from matchmaking in the UFC, to how Hall developed his jiu-jitsu, to using jiu-jitsu as a form of self defense.

Here are some of the highlights of what Hall had to say:

On being complimented by fighters refusing to face him:

“You can’t put compliments in the bank and you can’t use compliments to get to the next level of the game. On the one hand, I don’t know why people don’t want to fight, on the other hand it is frustrating, but I’m glad to be back.”

On accepting the Topuria fight:

“I realize it’s sports entertainment. But I want to win, and if I win I want to go forward and fight up, fight forward… I’m here for the fights that make sense and the fights that are going forward, and if that ends up being a great grappler, fantastic. But as you say, I’m here for the competitive difficulty and the challenge, and only that… I was in the top 15 for a while, I was as high as 12… I was initially told that I was gonna be able to fight back into the rankings… But I ended up fighting a prospect and a tough guy in Ilia Topuria, and I don’t turn down fights. If fights make sense and they’re tough people, I think Topuria is as good as many people in the top 15. And as a result, was happy to accept, and that’s why I’m back, and I’m just looking forward to Saturday.”

On being entertaining:

“People are gonna like it or not like it. I can’t control that, all I can do is play with everything that I’ve got and the chips will fall where they will.”

On refining his jiu-jitsu game to fit MMA:

“Over time, you try to get down to the core of what allows things to work. Someone can be on the surface doing a knee through pass… There’s a lot of nuance to it. How it works, where it fits, why it really works… Over the years I feel like I’ve done my best to internalize those things, and I’ve lost a lot. But I know how to win now. And I know a lot more than I once did and I’ve worked hard and I’ve gotten beat up enough times that it’s hard not to improve… I know that win or lose this weekend I will be better after I walk into that ring than I am before it.”

On what he enjoys about fighting:

“That’s why I enjoy fighting. Because of who you have to be to be able to use your skills in the ring against a world class opponent… can you remain calm and composed? Can you execute what you’ve trained? Can you still be yourself even in what would otherwise be a trying moment, and I think that’s what martial arts is meant to teach us.”

Ben Coate

Ben has been involved with grappling, whether through wrestling or Brazilian jiu-jitsu, essentially his entire life. After wrestling throughout his childhood, Ben found Brazilian jiu-jitsu as a young adult and quickly fell in love. He has been training for over ten years and currently holds the rank of brown belt, and remains involved in both the MMA and BJJ scene. Ben has been writing about combat sports since 2017. He has interviewed and profiled some of MMA's biggest stars, including multiple UFC champions.

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