UFC: Dan ‘The Outlaw’ Hardy set to wow Nottingham this weekend
For the first time the UFC experience is about to be visited upon the fine city of Nottingham and what a bill awaits in the Midlands. Struve, Miocic, Hardy, Pickett and Nelson will all feature strongly in a card that promises to fully sate the UK’s appetite for Octagon action for a while at least.
Whilst the meeting of Stefan Struve and Stipe Miocic can’t be described as an absolute top of the food chain clash they do make for a solid headliner as the Las Vegas based promotion makes its only UK trip of 2012. Star of the show however will be one of Nottingham’s favourite sons Dan Hardy. “The Outlaw” has spoken this week of how he fights “for the fight” and whilst I am often cynical of such grand statements I fully believe that Hardy has arrived at a state of mental wellbeing and fortitude where he has banished long term title ambitions in favour of the battles which face him in the “here and now”. For most professional fighters such a focused mindset, where only the immediate opponent and challenge is of primary concern yields fruit. For a mixed martial artist with the technique and ability of Hardy it may be the path to re-establishing himself as a considerable force in the welterweight division. Hardy spoke to MMA Weekly radio about his motivations for fighting as he looks to put a terrible 2010 and 2011 behind him and make his way back to the sport’s top table:
“I’m doing this sport for no other reason than I love it and that’s really the bottom line for me. If I was looking to make a load of money, I would be a boxer. Obviously, now we’re seeing Jon Jones picking up Nike sponsorships, there’s money to be made now, but when I got into it, it was because I loved the sport”
Up first though is Amir Sadollah. The former Ultimate Fighter winner has received mixed reviews in his career to date. His stand-up abilities are universally recognised as being his strongest asset. Whether that same striking flair will be enough to ward off the attacks of a Hardy buoyed by what will be a vociferous hometown support is debatable. Whilst Sadollah has always shown good cardio and a tight muay thai game, fighting a confident Hardy fresh off his UFC 146 defeat of Duane Ludwig in the co-main event this weekend is a tall order. Considering that Ludwig also has a 2011 win over Sadollah on his cv puts the task facing the amiable New Yorker into clinical perspective. Hardy’s power will prove too much for Sadollah. In a vivid illustration of how his home-soil bout against Carlos Condit UFC 120 should have played out Hardy will stop Sadollah via strikes midway through the second round.
One to watch-Gunnar Nelson
One bout I will be keeping a keen eye on is Gunnar Nelson’s battle with DaMarques Johnson. Johnson is a gamer and brought out the best in a returning Mike Swick last month at UFC on Fox 4. Whilst he does possess a well rounded game Johnson faces a daunting challenge at the Capital FM Arena in the form of Nelson. “Gunni” is one of SBG Ireland’s shining lights and commands huge respect on the international Brazilian ju-jitsu circuit. Nelson may be making his UFC debut on Saturday but he brings to the Octagon a wealth of high level combat experience, counting former UFC heavyweight Jeff Monson as one of his more high profile victims. Whilst MMA and BJJ are indeed altogether different environs Nelson combines high level mat work with decent striking and could well prove to be a dark horse in the 170 lb division in 2013. Nelson will end this one by submission perhaps even in the opening round.
Cream of UK talent to light up the main card
Higher up the card the two Johns, Maguire and Hathaway meet in another tasty welterweight match-up. In an intriguing clash of styles it will be fascinating to see how Maguire’s “Gypsy Ju-jitsu” copes with the Brighton native’s suffocating wrestling. I believe that Hathaway’s wrestling is like nothing Maguire has faced thus far in a promising career and will prove the difference when all is said and done. Hathaway should hand the charismatic Peterborough grappler his first UFC defeat via judges’ decision after three back and forth rounds.
“One Punch” to gather bantamweight momentum
One of the stars of what promises to be a genuinely fun night of fights will be Brad Pickett. “One Punch” will look to build on a resounding submission win over Damacio Page in Sweden. Yves Jabouin is riding a three fight win streak though and will not be underestimated by the likeable Londoner. With Jabouin possessing a dangerous striking arsenal, Pickett may look to regularly take this one to the mat where he can keep his opponent guessing en route to a hard fought win inside the distance.
Bisping being overlooked?
With all eyes on Nottingham this weekend, Michael Bisping’s win over Brian Stann at UFC 152 hasn’t received a huge amount of media attention. Having witnessed at first hand Stann’s savage destruction of Alessio Sakara in April I believe that calls for a middleweight title shot should now be ringing in “The Count’s” ears. He has spoken in recent days of his willingness to face off against Chris Weidman for the opportunity to challenge Anderson Silva for the 185lb strap. Perhaps this is the best solution for all concerned. It would leave no ambiguity as to who deserves a tilt at a pound for pound champion who may not campaign at the middleweight limit for much longer.
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