Brash Brit Dan Hardy talks the talk, but has yet to walk the walk
After suffering the first knockout loss of his career and losing decisively to the champion, how will The Outlaw rebound on his quest for UFC gold?
Dan Hardy has come a long way since his MMA debut in 2004. He entered the world of MMA as a young, 22 year old street brawler who was molded and meshed into an elite, well rounded mixed martial artist. Battling his way through various British organizations such as Cage Force and Cage Warriors to being the first Englishman to fight for UFC glory against one of the pound for pound greats; Canadian hero, Georges St Pierre.
Hardy’s colorful personality has earned him quite the reputation amongst fans and fellow fighters in the UFC, indulging into the pre-fight trash talk against many of his opponents, embracing his nick name; The Outlaw. However, with the recent turn of events, could we perhaps see a slight change of attitude for the out spoken Brit?
After losing in a very one sided affair to current Welterweight champ GSP and taking the time out to adjust and make amendments to the flaws in his game, many expected to see an improved, evolved Dan Hardy in his return to the Octagon.
Dan had taken the initiative to travel across the pond to the US in an effort to improve and expand on his wrestling skills, a much desired attribute if you wish to survive in the shark filled tank of current welterweight wrestlers. However, there was a lack grappling on display at UFC 120, when Dan Hardy’s night came to an abrupt and violent end.
The Outlaw vs. The Natural Born Killer, Joe Silva and co couldn’t have selected a more mouth watering stylistic match up. The fans expected fireworks and they received no less, Carlos Condit left the O2 arena with a bang. The always entertaining Dan Hardy received an overwhelming reception from the roaring London crowd as he made his way to the octagon, of course wearing his trademark thuggish bandana and playing to the crowd. Greeting him on the other side of the octagon was Carlos Condit and his signature scowl. The two fighters locked eyes immediately and glared at one another throughout the intense stare down, both men fuelled with adrenaline.
Carlos immediately established control at the centre of the octagon and engaged with a body kick, Hardy fired back with a series of leg kicks and claimed octagon control. The electric 02 arena began chanting Hardy’s name, really rallying behind their fellow countryman. The two fighters exchanged whipping leg kicks back and forth, with Carlos setting up a flashy switch kick, answered by a counter left hook from Hardy. The fighters continue to exchange leg kicks, Dan Hardy scoring with a couple of thunderous shots to the thigh. Condit again goes for a flamboyant move, almost scoring with a taekwondo style spinning elbow, Hardy countered again with a couple of solid left hooks. Condit responded with an accurate three punch combination, but Hardy continued to be the aggressor and marched forward seeking to attack. Both fighters began to trade punches, with Condit landing another combination, but Hardy found a home for that counter left hook. Both men swung with mean intentions in the centre of the octagon, one man fell. Hardy crashed to the canvas and Condit, like a Shark alerted by the scent of blood, swarmed all over him. Dan Miragliotta immediately dove into the action, saving Hardy from any further punishment. That was all, she wrote. Condit emerges victorious via first round KO.
Even after suffering his first knockout loss, it was nice to see Dan Hardy’s sense of humor still intact. Humoring the crowd by responding to Rogan with; “I got punched in the face” when asked what went wrong in the fight, they do say laughter is the best medicine after all.
Dan has only suffered from two consecutive losses once before in his career, back in 2006. He responded by stringing together a five fight winning streak, finishing four of his five opponents. Could we see a repeat performance on the main stage in the UFC? Although losing two fights subsequently is never seen as a positive in a fighters career, if we actually dig deeper and analyze the two bouts, they are far from career threatening.
Let’s not forget that Dan Hardy was challenging a man considered one of, if not the greatest pound for pound fighter in the world. Although he was out matched and simply out classed against the French Canadian, there was one thing St Pierre could not claim; Dan’s heart and strength of will. Twice Dan Hardy pulled off what seemed to be the impossible, wriggling his way free of two grueling arm bar attempts, which would of left many men frantically tapping out in desperation. Even Georges himself was in awe; “He must be made out of rubber”, he joked to the crowd.
He was knocked out in the first round by Condit, which left many fans with dropped jaws and scratching their heads. Given the fact that Hardy has always been renown for his granite chin and Condit has been quite a stranger to one shot KO victories, the result was quite a shock to say the least.
Viscous knock outs in combat sports have always tested a fighters true heart, some seem to diminish and fade away, never returning to their former selves. Take Andrei Arlovski for example, notorious for his dangerous striking and possessing some of the most technical boxing in the sport. After the enigmatic Russian, Fedor Emelianenko knocked his lights out, Andre since, has been half the man he used to be.
Other fighters seem to make transformations and return stronger and more motivated than ever, take current Welterweight superstar GSP for example, although not knocked out cold, he was tagged hard by the heavy handed underdog Matt Serra and was forced to tap out due to strikes, losing via TKO. Although the soft spoken champ has come under some fire lately, accused of taking the safe route to win fights and avoiding any risks, you cannot argue with the results. GSP came back from his TKO loss, striving for perfection, reclaiming the welterweight title and successfully defending it.
Fellow Brit Michael Bisping was also the victim of a fierce KO at the hands of Pride legend, Dan Henderson. Mike bounced back from adversity and has shown a steady improvement in each of his fights.
Which path is Mr. Hardy destined to pursue? Only time will tell.
By Lewis Mckeever