UFC: Dan ‘The Outlaw’ Hardy to make last stand
As the curtain falls on an eventful Virginia card we begin our preview of this month’s monstrous Las Vegas bill which features a back to the wall bout for our own Dan “The Outlaw” Hardy…
Even with the enforced absence of UFC president Dana White from a fight card for the first time in over eleven years, this week’s UFC on Fuel 3 was an undoubted success. Whilst the larger than life UFC impresario was unable to attend due to illness “The Korean Zombie” and Donald Cerrone were the biggest movers and shakers on a solid mid-week bill.
Chan Sung Jung’s defeat of Dustin Poirier will have surprised many, including yours truly and he will have put his name firmly into the proverbial mix with a sublime performance in a bout which had all the characteristics of “fight of the year”.
Donald Cerrone further cemented his claims to a 155lb title shot with a dominant performance against the always entertaining Jeremy “Lil Heathen” Stephens. Stephens has been criminally overlooked in some quarters for some time now and the way in which Cerrone overcame the brawling “bricks in his hands” style of the Des Moines native spoke volumes for his title aspirations as the lightweight division continues to take shape in preparation for the aftermath of the Edgar v Henderson rematch this Summer.
There was no doubt that “Cowboy’s” stock took a major hit following his “rabbit in the headlights” performance against the beguiling Nate Diaz at UFC141. Diaz’ ability to dictate the pace and location of the de facto kick boxing match essentially allowed him to drag the polished Denver striker into a dog-fight which was never going to suit him. Cerrone has clearly digested the lessons of the three round horror-show and has been vocal in his desire to share the octagon with Anthony Pettis in his hometown in August.
Next week we will be taking a look at the imminent heavyweight title fight between Frank Mir and Junior Dos Santo as well as Cain Velasquez and WBigfoot” Silva. We kick things off with a preview of Nottingham’s favourite son Dan Hardy’s UFC 146 bout as he attempts to right the ship in what has been a rollercoaster UFC career.
Dan Hardy is in a tough spot and he knows it. Not many fighters survive a four fight skid but Hardy will find himself in just this do-or-die situation come May 27th at the MGM Grand. The fact that Lorenzo Fertitia is granting the crowd pleasing tae kwon do practitioner a shot at redemption is a testament to Hardy’s previous outings. People simply like to watch this guy fight. The fact that he was the first ever Brit to contest a title in the organisation at any weight (surviving a 25 minute war of attrition with Georges St Pierre) and now faces the distinct prospect of a pink slip show that Hardy’s UFC tenure has taken on the guise of a rollercoaster.
Simply put, a martial artist doesn’t become a bad fighter overnight. Hardy had paid his dues on the English circuit for years. Indeed the clamour for his signing to the world’s premier fight league was palpable prior to him debuting in Birmingham back in October 2008. The fight game is at its core a “what have you done for me lately” industry. Hardy has been pitched against fellow strikers in three of the aforementioned defeats and has come off second best (though Antony Johnson didn’t live up to his pre-fight bravado). Next up “The Outlaw” will lock horns with fellow stand-up artist Duane “Bang” Ludwig and again Hardy will be out to prove that his recent slump does not reflect his unquestionable ability as an ever-evolving mixed martial artist. I believe that the elongated timeframe between Hardy’s last bout and this month’s pivotal encounter will prove advantageous to him.
Ludwig is both accurate and quick with his strikes. Employing a muay thai arsenal honed over many years (his first UFC appearance was in 2003) Ludwig is equally as dangerous as previous conqueror Chris Lytle on the feet. It’s on the ground where Hardy may have the advantage in this one. Hardy has been working diligently on his mat game with Robert Drysdale, Frank Mir and Co. recently and may throw a curve ball Ludwig’s way en route to a decision win.
Sass to enhance rep stateside?
Another Englishman who will look to light up the undercard of one of the biggest (literally and figuratively speaking) bills of the year is Paul Sass. The submissions whiz from Liverpool is becoming well known on both sides of the pond for his slick subs but he will find the going tough against grinding wrestler Jacob Volkmann. Volkmann’s style is far from aesthetically pleasing but more often than not he gets the job done. Spending fifteen minutes on the ground with Sass however is a perilous strategy and I expect the BJJ purple belt to further enhance his standing in the lightweight division via second round “Sass-angle”.
Hunt to clip Struve’s wings?
A bout which I for one will be glued to is Mark Hunt’s encounter with Stefan Struve. Hunt’s form has been a revelation of late and the clash of seasoned vet versus talented up and comer will be an intriguing one. If Struve can’t get “The Super Samoan” to the mat early he could find his tendency to hold his chin high cruelly exposed under Vegas’ bright lights.
Bonnar and Griffin to turn back the clock?
Last word this week goes to original Ultimate Fighter finalist Stephan Bonnar. “The American Psycho” has spoken this week of his desire to coach TUF against the man who has twice defeated him Forrest Griffin. Bonnar believes that a re-run of their epic 2005 clash would be a fitting way to bring their “friendly” rivalry to the Fox network. Having the two fan favourites square off in a trilogy ending brawl wouldn’t do ratings any harm whatsoever.
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