Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight sluggers Tai Tuivasa and Greg Hardy will go to war this weekend (Sat., July 10, 2021) at UFC 264 inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
A strong start to Tuivasa’s UFC career gave way to a trio of fairly ugly losses, revealing some holes in Tuivasa’s game and putting the Aussie on the chopping block. Tuivasa has since righted the ship, however, picking up a pair of major knockout wins to remind the world why fight fans were excited about “Bam Bam” in the first place. Meanwhile, Hardy — the controversial former NFL player — has carved out a place for himself as a UFC fighter. His overall results have been mixed (4-3, 1 NC) in eight trips to the Octagon, but Hardy has nevertheless managed to show a reasonable rate of improvement and give even solid fighters some trouble.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Andrei Arlovski (UFC 225), Stefan Struve (UFC 254), Cyril Asker (UFC 222), Rashad Coulter (UFC Fight Night 121)
Key Losses: Junior dos Santos (UFC Fight Night 142), Blagoy Ivanov (UFC 238), Sergei Spivac (UFC 243)
Keys to Victory: A trainee of Mark Hunt, Tuivasa has that same surprising speed that allows him to deliver seriously powerful blows in the blink of an eye. He’s also craftier than the average Heavyweight banger, capable of doing major damage with kicks, knees and elbows.
Ten of his victories come via knockout.
Against Hardy, I’d really love to see Tuivasa chop the hell out of his foe’s lead leg. Tuivasa has nasty low kicks, and Hardy has taken a lot of damage to the lead leg in past bouts — it’s a match made in heaven!
If Tuivasa can destabilize Hardy’s base a bit, his life becomes much easier, as Hardy’s ability to point fight at long distance will be compromised. After all, distance kickboxing requires good mobility. Since Tuivasa can stand up to his opponent in a firefight unlike many of Hardy’s past foes, he can really look to move inside his foe’s long distance punches and come over the top with knockout shots.
Record: 7-3 (1)
Key Wins: Maurice Greene (UFC Vegas 12), Yorgan de Castro (UFC 249), Juan Adams (UFC on ESPN 4), Dmitry Smolyakov (UFC Fight Night 150)
Key Losses: Marcin Tybura (UFC Vegas 17), Alexander Volkov (UFC Fight Night 163), Allen Crowder (UFC on ESPN+ 1)
Keys to Victory: Hardy is a powerhouse who’s trying to fight like a distance kickboxer. True, the 32-year-old does have the build for that style, but it’s a transition that has definitely resulted in some growing pains.
I’d like to see Hardy at least attempt a takedown in this match up. Why not? He’s somewhere around 280 pounds on fight night, and Tuivasa’s ground game is pretty bad. If Hardy were actually to solidify a takedown and get on top of “Bam Bam,” there’s a real chance he could just hammer away to the finish.
Even if the takedown fails, maybe Hardy can muscle his foe around from the clinch.
Otherwise, Hardy is stuck striking with a more experienced kickboxer. If he’s going to find success in that realm, Hardy has to get his straight punches going, and more importantly, he has to earn Tuivasa’s respect quickly. Sticking Tuivasa on lead or on the counter with a left is essential, as the Australian will try to run through him otherwise.
Checking low kicks would be wise, too, for obvious reasons.
On likely the most high-profile event of the year, UFC is opting to promote Greg Hardy and Tai Tuivasa. Truly, the promotion’s decisions are baffling.
At any rate, this is mid-tier Heavyweight action. Both men have shown potential, glimpses of the fighter’s they could be. However, they both have struggled to manage their gas tanks, as well as with the wrestling/grappling aspects of mixed martial arts. For the winner, perhaps this fight will demonstrate improvement in the former, though the latter is a crapshoot.
For Tuivasa, maybe three wins in a row earns him a Top 15-ranked foe next.
On the flip side, defeat is likely to expose an area where these up-and-comers still need polish. Hardy is 32 years of age, and Tuivasa just 28 — there’s still time to develop. However, a loss shows that more time in the cage with unranked foes is necessary.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 264 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 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+ PPV.
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At UFC 264, Tai Tuivasa and Greg Hardy will throw down. Which man will earn the victory?