The UFC returns from its two-month hiatus on May with a unique card set to take place behind closed doors in Florida – and there is a lot more to the card than the two title bouts at the top of the bill.

Several years ago, after a litany of impressive knockouts on a season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” his coach Chael Sonnen declared Uriah Hall an immediate contender to the UFC middleweight crown.

However, those lofty expectations were never quite fulfilled.

But when “Prime Time” is on form, there are few fighters on the UFC roster as capable of landing a highlight-reel knockout finish. Hall’s gift in the striking realm was never quite matched by his ability to stifle aggressive opponents though and, as such, his UFC record reads suggests a career of unfulfilled potential rather than that of the title contendership foreseen by Sonnen.

The career of his opponent at UFC 249, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, has somewhat different, yet they both find themselves in similar positions. The Brazilian is among the finest submission specialists to ever have competed in the UFC and has been a perennial contender in the UFC’s middleweight division. But, like Hall, a title shot has so far eluded him.

The time Uriah Hall caught a body on the Ultimate Fighter with a spin kick#UFC.Listen for Dana Whites reaction ???

Now returning to the middleweight fold after an unsuccessful sojourn to light heavyweight, the 40-year-old Souza finds himself in a similar position to that of his opponent: a win can extend championship ambitions, while a loss all but rules out ever competing for UFC gold. 

Hall has stated publicly that he has had problems throughout his career with regard to motivation and confidence inside the cage.

His “Jekyll & Hyde” performances in the octagon are perhaps best characterized by two performances against former Bellator world champion Gegard Mousasi.

The first, back in September 2015, showed the best of what Hall has to offer. After a close first round, Hall connected with a spinning back kick on an advancing Mousasi to send him sprawling against the cage. He finished the fight via strikes on the ground soon after.

A little over a year later, Hall was dominated inside the first round of their rematch and Mousasi claimed a TKO win of his own. 

It was these types of inconsistent performances which led to Hall never quite being considered among the elite at 185lbs. But though that could easily change if claimsa huge win over “Jacare” at UFC 249.

Souza, meanwhile, also finds himself with his back against the wall. He has registered just one win in his last four fights, and was defeated in a split decision by Poland’s Jan Blachowicz last November in what was an ill-fated testing of the waters at 205lbs.

Now back at his middleweight home, Souza faces a must-win situation against a fighter very much in the same position.

Uriah Hall’s demeanor on fight night.

It’ll be hard to predict the matchup until we know which version of Hall shows up to the cage in Jacksonville.

If the Hall who blitzed Mousasi arrives on fight night, expect fireworks. But if an off-form Hall shows up, expect it to be a very manageable task for “Jacare,” who has only been finished via strikes three times in his 35-fight career.

Uriah Hall has never been submitted in his career and if he can come out of the fight on Saturday with that record intact, it will go a long way towards having his hand raised. 

Against a fighter of Souza’s caliber though, that is a very big ask indeed.