Marlan “Pretty Boy” Hall is leaving the amateur mixed-martial arts fight league on top.
After clinching his 10th win and defending his Battlefield Fight League featherweight championship on March 17 at the Hard Rock Casino in Coquitlam, Hall said he now wants to turn pro.
Hall had his challenger, Casey O’Leary, pinned at 1:58 in round one, an impressive feat that sets a record in the BFL for most wins by an amateur fighter. This one-round bout came as no surprise to the champion, who had a feeling the fight would be over quickly.
“I was going for the knockout, just because I wanted to get one I suppose. It was just one of those feelings like right before I came back last year, I got a knockout first round,” said Hall. “It was just like that same feeling where I had some nerves, but I wasn’t even thinking about four rounds, I just knew it was ending in the first. There was this really deep feeling inside of me that it was going to end in the first, but I was prepared to go five rounds.”
This fight had been much-anticipated by Hall, an Oliver resident and Okanagan Indian Band member, and his fans in the area as he had announced that it would be his final amateur fight before returning to the league in fall 2019 to fight professionally. To increase the pressure and “get into (Marlan’s) head,” O’Leary began calling Hall out on social media in advance of the fight, promising to take him down.
Hall posted a video the day before the fight on his Facebook page of himself and O’Leary at the weigh-in. Much to Hall’s fans’ chagrin, O’Leary’s antagonistic antics continued but Hall kept his composure.
“I knew he was going to get up in my face, I didn’t know what he was going to say,” said Hall, adding that O’Leary then tried to verbally intimidate him. “I was like, ‘Alright, alright’ and just tried to remain calm. I didn’t want to push or shove him. And then he ended up patting me on the head. It didn’t click until two seconds after and I realized this guy actually patted me on my head.”
Hall said he assumed O’Leary was just trying to market the fight and didn’t take the action too personally, but his fans on social media were quickly outraged when they saw the video.
“Holy cow, all my fans and everybody that was commenting, they were going crazy,” said Hall. “So I’m glad that I got it done for them.”
O’Leary continued with his macho facade entering into the ring the night of the fight, waving his arms to get the crowd excited and encouraging those who booed. Hall said even still, he wasn’t phased by O’Leary’s behaviour.
“I just tried to remain to myself and think, this is my moment, this is not his moment. This is my time,” said Hall. “I got the finish at 1:58 of round one. I thought he was going to do more clinch work and stuff like that, so I wasn’t anticipating a takedown.
“So he shot on me, I stuffed it. Then I ended up reversing him, getting on top, and the moment I was on top I realized I was a lot stronger than this guy. I was thinking we’d maybe be the same strength, but my grappling was a lot higher than his.”
After the fight, O’Leary took to social media saying he was “super happy” for Hall and that he had found an opening and capitalized on it to secure his victory. Hall agreed that MMA can be unpredictable because the smallest slip-up can cost you a fight, something he has also experienced.
Hall’s amateur MMA fighting career now stands at 10 wins and three losses, and he’s happy it’s ending on a positive note. He said he plans to take the summer off and will return in later this year to fight professionally in the league.
“I’ll be going professional, maybe at the end of summer sometime, I don’t want to wait too long. I’d like to get two pro fights, potentially one, I just don’t want to rush it,” said Hall. “I just want to take my time. When you’re riding a high and this momentum from a win-streak, sometimes you go into your pro debut and lose quickly. Then your stock and your market goes down, so I want to take the smart route of it.
“I believe that I am at a pro level, but I do know that pro is a big level up. These guys take it for real, so I’m just going to take it for real.”
Hall wants to thank all of his fans and sponsors for their support so far, adding that he is still looking for more sponsorships. He said his summer plans involve enjoying as much Dairy Queen ice cream he can handle, now that he’s no longer training.
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