Photo by Martin McNeil for SB Nation
MMAmania's Brian Hemminger takes a look back at last night's UFC on FUEL TV 5 co-main event between welterweights Dan Hardy and Amir Sadollah. What surprising new wrinkle in his game put Hardy over the edge? Find out inside
Two welterweights trying to work their way back up the divisional ladder squared off yesterday (Sept. 29, 2012) as Nottingham native Dan Hardy took on Amir Sadollah in the co-main event of UFC on FUEL TV 5 from Nottingham, England.
Hardy was trying to put a wretched four fight losing streak behind him permanently and was coming off a strong first round knockout of Duane Ludwig earlier this year.
Sadollah, meanwhile, had looked rough in his prior two fights and was just trying to get a high profile win.
Both men looked strong early, but as the fight wore on, Hardy surprised everyone in attendance by relying more on his grappling than his renowned striking skills.
In the end, what was the deciding factor that put "The Outlaw" over the top against Sadollah? And what happens next for both men?
Sadollah surprisingly took the cage center in the beginning of the fight, forcing Hardy to fight on the outside, circling and trying to counter. Sadollah was doing a good job of working leg kicks and mixing up his attack to keep Hardy guessing while Hardy was simply trying far too hard to land the fight ending counter blow, perhaps affected by fighting in his hometown after such a long time away.
In the second round, Hardy finally ramped up the aggression, actually leading the way in some of the striking exchanges and backing Sadollah up. When Sadollah tried to respond, "The Outlaw" changed levels and took him down. Once on the canvas, Hardy actually did some damage, dropping elbows and opening up multiple cuts on The Ultimate Fighter season seven winner's face.
When he couldn't take Sadollah down, Hardy also pressed him into the fence and worked short punches and knees to keep him on the defensive. Despite a close first round, he clearly won the second and third and walked away with a unanimous decision for his efforts.
For Amir Sadollah, he needs to take a long, hard look at himself after yesterday's fight. Sure, his stand-up was okay, but when you get repeatedly ragdolled by Dan Hardy, your takedown defense needs some serious work. He was outmatched in both the clinch and on the ground, even if he was hanging around on the feet. His speed was slightly improved, but he still doesn't throw strikes quick enough to really hurt. That takedown defense needs some serious work if he wants to remain employed.
For Dan Hardy, some may be critical of his decision to take the fight to the ground, but he should be very happy with his performance. Other than focusing too heavily on counterstriking in the opening round, he looked sharp. His ground and pound was above average and he did some serious damage to Sadollah on the ground. It was nice to see him mix it up instead of just being a "stand-and-banger." Hopefully he can continue to progress as he puts that losing streak behind him.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Are you a fan of this new and improved Dan Hardy 2.0? Do you think he could ever get back to the upper ranks of the welterweight division?