UFC Fight Night 24: "Nogueira vs. Davis" is set to go down this Saturday night at 10 p.m. ET live on Spike TV from the KeyArena in Seattle, Washington.
Explosive welterweight strikers Dan Hardy and Anthony Johnson will square off in the co-main event to see who gets one step closer to regaining some momentum in the 170-pound title hunt after suffering defeat in each of their last fights.
"Rumble" will be making his return to the Octagon after a 16-month layoff due to a knee injury. Despite showing tremendous promise as a fighter, Johnson has failed to live up to expectations as he's missed weight on several occasions.
For Britain's Dan Hardy, he's fallen out of the top ten rankings after back-to-back losses to welterweight kingpin Georges St. Pierre and Carlos Condit. The Team Rough House student will fight hard and look to avoid being given his possible walking papers with a third loss in a row.
Will Johnson be able to make weight and get back into contention? Or will Hardy be able to end his bad fortune and get back to stringing some solid wins together?
We break it all down after the jump.
Record: 23-8 overall, 4-2 in the UFC
How he got here: Known primarily for his striking, the Team Rough House fighter has won 11 of his 23 victories via some form of knockout. The 28-year-old Brit entered the UFC with a giant wealth of experience from fighting in both the U.K. and Japan and held the Cage Warriors welterweight title.
Since he got into the UFC, Hardy has not only shown solid striking skills, but has a mouth that has gotten under the skin of both fans and fighters. Currently riding a two-fight losing streak, Hardy has escaped the welterweight elite by losing to both welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre and Carlos Condit.
How he gets it done: It's no secret that Hardy likes to stand and bang and that's precisely what he's got to do. The Brit may end up losing the first round, but if he can work the body of Johnson and stay weary of Johnson's power, he can put him away later in the fight. Hardy also can't let himself end up on his back, as Johnson is a much larger man with a solid background in wrestling and will have to scramble if Johnson decides to take the fight to the ground.
Record: 8-3 overall, 5-3 in the UFC
Key Wins: Yoshiyuki Yoshida (UFC 104), Luigi Fioravanti (UFC Fight Night 17), Kevin Burns (TUF 8 Finale)
Key Losses: Josh Koscheck (UFC 106), Rich Clementi (UFC 76), Kevin Burns (UFC Fight Night 14)
How he got here: Johnson is a former 2004 NJCAA for Lassen College. Training out of American Kickboxing Academy, "Rumble" had a rough outing his first UFC fight where he both missed weight and lost via rear naked choke to Rich Clementi. Since the loss to Clementi, the 27-year-old has gone 4-2, including wins over the likes of Kevin Burns, Yoshiyuki Yoshida, and Luigi Fioravanti. Last we saw Johnson, he lost to Josh Koscheck via a second round rear naked choke.
How he gets it done: For Johnson to defeat Hardy, the safest way would be to put "The Outlaw" on his back and dip into his NJCAA wrestling background. From there Johnson will need to maintain top control and fire big punches to get an early ground n' pound stoppage. With how much weight Johnson cuts and the long layoff, Johnson must get things done early and waste no time in getting after Hardy.
Fight "X Factor:" The part-time American Kickboxing Academy fighter is suffering a 16-month layoff and I don't care who you are, ring rust is a game changer when you're fighting at a high level. Hardy, despite losing to Condit, fought in November of last year and Johnson may have a great deal of cage rust being that the last time he fought was back in November 2009 against Josh Koscheck.
Bottom Line: It's really hard to call this fight because both Hardy and Johnson can end fights within the blink of an eye. Johnson's cardio is a question mark, but so is Hardy's grappling. So as much as I'm not high on ring rust, I'm leaning slightly towards Johnson. Johnson is the far better athlete, a better wrestler, and is so explosive early on with his striking that Hardy could have a rough going.
Who's going to get back on track in the welterweight division? Tell us what you think Maniacs!