UFC 120 Preview Part 4: Dan Hardy vs. Carlos Condit

2010 has been a busy year for Dan Hardy (23-7, 11Ko, 4Sub), with the Nottingham welterweight breaking through and become one of the most recognisible fighters in the world. In March he became the latest victim of George St. Pierre, with the World Champion dominanting Hardy in a five-round mauling. While Hardy being unable to stop St. Pierre’s takedowns was no surprise (after all high-level wrestlers such as Matt Hughes, Josh Koscheck and Jon Fitch were powerless against them) his failure to do anything but survive off his back highlighted a wide gulf in quality, particularly as Hardy had been won rounds off his back against both Marcus Davis and Mike Swick. Despite being outmanned Hardy won plaudits for showing tremendous heart and resilience,  best shown by his freakish ability to survive a well-applied kimura.

So despite having lost to St. Pierre, Hardy still left UFC 111 with an increased profile and extra credibility. He would resurface in the Summer, attacking the focus on wrestling in the UFC. Criticising Nick Lentz for his performance against Andre Winner, he said that “I think the problem is there’s beginning to be too much wrestling in UFC Octagon, not too little of it in the gym”  and that “If he is consistently trying to tie the other guy up to avoid actual fighting – warn him and then start taking points. It is supposed to be a fight”. This attracted widespread derision, with many pointing out that the superior grappling contests he cites are the result of both fighters being skilled enough to have a competitive ground battle whereas too often fighters can only go into survival mode when put on their back or pushed up against the cage.  For many it came across as sour grapes, somebody who lost to wrestling trying to shift the goalposts. When I spoke to Gray Maynard last month, he blunty dismissed Hardy’s comments “You’ve gotta learn to stop it…anyone who gets taken down a lot need to know that it might be time to practice it every day, because when there’s a hole in your game you can either complain about it or get good at it”.

Hardy was undaunted by criticism return to his theme repeatedly over the past few weeks as he prepares to face Carlos Condit (25-5; 11KO, 13Sub) in front of his British fans at the O2 Arena on Saturday. Hardy is the more well-travelled fighter, having faced a higher level of competition than Condit but one cannot get passed the superior finishing ratio of the American. For all Hardy’s talk of the rules needing to be changed to encourage fighters to finish, he has actually only finished one fight in the UFC, and that was against a dehydrated Rory Markham. For all Hardy’s technical excellence in striking, he actually lacks the knockout power to real push the fight to a finish. That isn’t a problem for Condit, who was able to finish Rory Macdonald at UFC 115 despite being on the backfoot for much of the first two rounds. He also has superior jiu-jitsu as shown by his thirteen submission victories. Hardy may well be able to outpoint Condit standing and be competitive on the ground, but I think Condit will be able to disappoint UK fans by becoming the first fighter to finish Hardy in the UFC.

Will’s Pick: Carlos Condit

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