Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight hitters Greg Hardy and Yorgan de Castro will throw down this Saturday (May 9, 2020) at UFC 249 from inside VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida.
Fingers crossed folks, we’re just a few days away from Heavyweight violence.
Hardy was among the most active fighters on the roster in 2019, competing five times and closing the experience gap a bit. His performances were something of a mixed bag: definite knockout power, slowly improving technique, but also plenty of beginner mistakes. That’s all to be expected though, and it will be interesting to see how Hardy looks after six months in the gym.
Yorgan de Castro, meanwhile, is less known; however, he does have a pair of knockout victories in “Contender Series” and his UFC debut. The 32-year-old is looking to grow his name, and the opening of an ESPN+ pay-per-view (PPV) seems like a great opportunity.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Record: 5-2 (1)
Key Wins: Juan Adams (UFC on ESPN 4), Dmitry Smolyakov (UFC Fight Night 150), Austen Lane (DWTNCS 2018)
Key Losses: Alexander Volkov (UFC Fight Night 163), Allen Crowder (UFC on ESPN+ 1)
Keys to Victory: Hardy is still developing, and his game is currently a bit at odds with his physical attributes. Early on, Hardy was just swarming and blasting lesser combinations, but he’s taken steps to capitalize on his long range rather than pure power. His kickboxing is a work in progress, but there has been definite growth since his signing.
De Castro has proven himself a pretty solid counter puncher with a dangerous low kick. Fortunately for Hardy, being absolutely massive should help negate both of those weapons. Hardy doesn’t need to chase de Castro; he can pick at him from long range with that 80-inch reach. In his last two fights, the Southpaw has also been more reliant on his own low and body kick, which will prevent de Castro from freely chopping away.
In short, it’s a match up that should allow Hardy’s more patient kickboxing style to succeed. So long as he doesn’t rush forward into a big counter shot, Hardy seems likely to control the flow of the fight.
Yorgan de Castro
Key Wins: Justin Tafa (UFC 243), Alton Meeks (DWTNCS 2019)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: It’s hard to get a full read on de Castro’s grappling and wrestling abilities because of his short UFC and mixed martial arts (MMA) career, but the Cape Verdean athlete likes to look for the knockout anyway. De Castro’s main two weapons are his right low kick — which he drops his body weight into nicely — and his heavy right hand.
In his last bout, de Castro’s strategy worked perfectly. He moved around a bit, Tafa surged forward, and de Castro absolutely annihilated him with an overhand counter. As mentioned, however, Hardy has not been rushing forward and also has the length to hang back.
As such, de Castro will have to force the fight in a measured manner. I’d like to see him stalk Hardy and refuse to back off from exchanges. When Hardy tries to play the range game with an active jab or kick, slam that lead leg — that’s a great way to encourage Hardy to overcommit.
De Castro is on the wrong side of a serious physical disadvantage, but he can level the playing field by convincing Hardy to step forward into counter striking range.
Bottom Line: It’s a fairly low-level Heavyweight fight. Hopefully, it’s a fun one!
Fair or not, Hardy is a name because of his NFL past, and UFC continues to hope that he’ll develop into a major player at Heavyweight. This bout is a reasonable match up for him to rebound after a loss, as de Castro is at a similar level of experience and presents a challenge without being an overwhelming threat. As such, Hardy is a fair foe for de Castro as well, who has a chance to really establish himself as a serious Heavyweight prospect with another victory.
Since UFC is invested in Hardy, there’s little change a loss hurts him too badly — they’ll find someone he can beat up. It would definitely prove to be a missed opportunity for de Castro, who would not be so far up the card if not for Hardy.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 249 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN+/Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN+/ESPN at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+.
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At UFC 249, Greg Hardy and Yorgan de Castro will throw down to open the main card. Which man will have his hand raised?