UFC on FUEL TV 5 results: Dan Hardy becomes a 'smarter' fighter, but at what cost?

Photo by Martin McNeil for SB Nation

Dan Hardy beat Amir Sadollah at UFC on FUEL TV 5 on Sept. 29 in Nottingham, England, but didn't do much to improve his position within the welterweight division.

You might want to check under your bed for foamy green pods before calling it a night, Maniacs, as it looks like the body snatchers are up to their old tricks.

Longtime Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweight warrior Dan Hardy was back in action earlier today (Sept. 29, 2012), taking a unanimous decision win from Amir Sadollah in front of a hometown crowd at the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham, England.

His victory over The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 7 champion at UFC on FUEL TV 5 marked his second straight since a putrid 0-4 run inside the Octagon that began with a five round laugher against reigning division champion Georges St. Pierre back in 2010. It appears that Hardy is "back," and back for good.

So why isn't anyone breaking out the party hats?

Well, for a fighter who calls himself "The Outlaw," he pretty much followed the rules inside the cage today. I'm talking, of course, about the rules of engagement. Instead of throwing heavy leather until someone dropped, he put a little more mixed into his martial arts, complementing takedowns with ground and pound to batter his foe and coast to a sweep on the judges' scorecards.

He fought intelligently and followed a successful blueprint. But what did it cost him?

Fans are accustomed to seeing fighters play it safe to maintain their position withing the division. Nobody wants to roll the dice when they have a title shot within reach, just as a champion will sometimes do "just enough" to secure the win and retain the strap.

But a fighter who is 1-4 over his last five?

Let's face it, Sadollah is not a Johny Hendricks or a Jake Ellenberger type of puncher. If there was ever a fight to let the hands go and see what happens, today's was it. After all, isn't that what got him to the big dance in the first place? I certainly don't begrudge him for winning, but I think he may have failed to capitalize on a huge opportunity.

Was this a meaningless win?

Imagine if Hardy went all out and lost. It's likely the UFC would have afforded him another fight. But would his opponent be that much different than the one he's getting anyway? It's my opinion that if "The Outlaw" walked out of the Capital FM Arena with Sadollah staring at the lights and the crowd on its feet, he would have made himself much more marketable.

Which scenario gets him the bigger fight?

"Dan Hardy is back and has already knocked out two straight welterweights in his quest to return to the top of the division," or "Dan Hardy came back with a 'Bang' then showed he is indeed well rounded by outpointing a TUF champ."

From his pre-fight interview:

"Nothing's changed. I want to get in there and fight guys. I'm a fighter and I come to fight, and I think as long as you show up with that mentality, the fight is going to be exciting because you're trying to beat the guy up."

From his post-fight interview:

"Yeah, I fought and just started trading punches. I like wars as much as you guys, but I've got to be smart, I've got to be sensitive. I've got to take my shots. It was a good fight, I enjoyed it."

He enjoyed it ... but did you?

Dan Hardy fought a smart fight and won. I congratulate him. I'm not an advocate of mindless striking or idiotic gameplans, but sometimes a fighter has nothing to lose and should just go for it. I doubt a loss would have earned him his pink slip and realistically, he's still miles away from title contention.

Or, maybe I'm just a silly mark who fell for the Mohawk and tough guy talk. I was a fan of the old gunslinger but I guess Rashad Evans said it best when referring to Hardy's new-found love for wrestling and takedowns: "If you can't stop 'em, join 'em."

For more UFC on FUEL TV 5 results and reactions click here.

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