Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight prospects Sergey Spivak and Greg Hardy will battle this weekend (Sat., March 5, 2022) at UFC 272 inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
After a difficult (1-2) start to his UFC career, Spivak rattled off a three-fight win streak to really establish himself inside the Octagon. That win streak also earned him a big opportunity versus top prospect, Tom Aspinall, who proved too much for the Moldovan “Polar Bear.” Hardy’s career trajectory has been rather similar. After struggling to find his footing early, Hardy put some wins together and took a step up in competition. The outcome? A pair of knockout losses, and Hardy enters this pay-per-view (PPV) main card opener on the final fight of his UFC contract.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Tai Tuivasa (UFC 243), Aleksei Oleinik (UFC Vegas 29), Carlos Felipe (UFC Fight Island 2), Jared Vanderaa (UFC Vegas 19)
Key Losses: Tom Aspinall (UFC Vegas 36), Walt Harris (UFC Fight Night 151), Marcin Tybura (UFC Fight Night 169)
Keys To Victory: Spivak isn’t an incompetent striker, but he has yet to show the one-punch knockout power many of his peers bring to the table. Instead, Spivak aggressively chains together clinch takedown attempts, and once in top position, he’s a real threat with both his punches and submissions.
If — and this is a big if — Spivak lands a takedown, this fight is probably over. Hardy has proven himself a pretty miserable bottom grappler on several occasions, and Spivak has the skills to make him pay for that weakness quickly. The problem, however, is that Hardy is typically pretty difficult to ground.
The odds of Spivak hitting his first takedown attempt of the fight aren’t great. What’s important is that he continues to wrestle, keeping the fight in the clinch and draining his opponent. Worst-case, if Spivak is unable to trip or drag his opponent to the mat, he can look for riskier techniques, like the head-and-arm throw he repeatedly used against Tai Tuivasa.
With that type of sacrificial throw, Spivak may still convince Hardy to follow him to the canvas if it fails. After the first round, the takedown should come easier as Hardy fatigues.
Record: 7-4 (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: Tai Tuivasa (UFC 264), Marcin Tybura (UFC Vegas 17), Alexander Volkov (UFC Fight Night 163), Allen Crowder (UFC on ESPN+ 1)
Keys to Victory: Hardy is a brawler trying to fight like a kickboxer. He doesn’t quite know how to maintain his distance and throw with power, so he tends to choose one or the other and is still figuring out how to blend those worlds.
He hasn’t been fighting for all that long, so it’s not exactly a shock.
Oddly enough, either strategy stands a fair shot at working. Hardy is far bigger and more powerful than Spivak, so bull-rushing him in the hopes of an early finish isn’t a terrible idea. At the same time, if Hardy can stay disciplined, he has the range tools to pick Spivak apart for three rounds and stay away from the clinch.
Which path to choose? Well, staying disciplined has historically been difficult for Hardy. This is the man who has given fights away via illegal strikes and inhales. Rather than count on staying smart for the full 15 minutes against a more experienced grappler, trying to overwhelm Spivak out of the gate seems the better move.
This is the obligatory Heavyweight fight on a PPV. It’s not great, but hopefully it’s fun.
Spivak is firmly in the middle of the Heavyweight ranks right now, able to out-grapple lesser Heavyweights without issue but struggling against that upper echelon. Fortunately, he’s just 27 years of age, which is exceptionally young for a Heavyweight with his experience level. Though a win over Hardy would certainly help his position and set him up for future high-profile fights, Spivak has some breathing room and time to develop further.
The stakes are higher for Hardy, who could find himself unemployed with a third-consecutive defeat here. UFC has pushed Hardy consistently and paid him well, but at a certain point, he has to pick up wins to justify his presence on main cards.
At UFC 272, Sergey Spivak and Greg Hardy will open the main card. Which man earns the victory?
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 272 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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