UFC 111, it is a fight like this that makes mixed martial arts the sport we all love. Hours of debate, pages of speculation, and hundreds of videos look at fights like this from every angle possible. One of the pound-for-pound greatest fighters in the sport up against the brash underdog from Nottingham, with both men enlisting the help of other UFC superstars to create the sort of fight that fans love to see and makes non-believers step closer to embracing the eight-sided cage.
While it is not a popular opinion and certainly spits in the eye of conventional wisdom, I firmly believe that Dan Hardy will win his bout at UFC 111 and take the belt from the waist of George St. Pierre.
There is no doubt that GSP is a very tall summit to best with a six fight win streak, while the only blemishes that currently stain his near perfect fight record are to Matt Serra and Matt Hughes, which George has rebounded from by beating Hughes twice and Matt once. Still contemplating a run at the Canadian Olympic Wrestling team, GSP certainly is the odds on favorite to win at UFC 111 and would certainly like to make that win in a stunning victory over the “Outlaw.”
Dan Hardy, on the other hand, plays the part of the spoiler. A brash brawler from Nottingham, England with a brown belt under Eddie Bravo and dynamite at the end of his arms, Hardy has made a name in the UFC after only four fights as a brawler. However, Dan is a much more complex fighter than what you may perceive at first glance. The man spent time with the Shaolin monks, as a cerebral game plan, and has been in the position as the underdog since his arrival in the UFC.
James Toney expressed it best on a recent episode of Inside MMA when he stated that “every fight starts standing up”, and it is standing up that Dan Hardy has his opportunity to spoil St. Pierre’s night. Every round that Dan gets through resets the fight and has the two men stand back up, and it is at that time when GSP has to cross the canvas and meet the “Outlaw” in the middle that he is highly susceptible to losing his belt.
Sure, GSP is training with Gegard Mousasi, Nate Marquardt, Kenny Florian, and Renzo Gracie – and that is a super camp, not to taken lightly – but all of these guys outside Mousasi have had problems with great strikers like B.J. Penn and Anderson Silva; which is the hole in GSP’s game and also where Dan excels.
In Sam Sheridan’s book “A Fighter’s Mind” he talks about Miyamoto Musashi and his “Book of Five Rings” as one of the greatest Samurai’s to ever live. “The Book of Five Rings” talks about the best ways to beat any enemy, and that comes down to tempo and rhythm. You see that in every great fight, the fighter who sets the tempo, controls the bout, and if Dan can set the tempo and keep GSP on his heels he has an excellent opportunity to be crowned the new welterweight champion of the world.
The great thing about fights like this is the debate it sparks. When the dust settles on Saturday night, fans like me and you will likely have enjoyed one of the best fights of 2010.