Last night, Dan Hardy served notice to the UFC Welterweight division that his hands are as fast as his trash-talking mouth, out-quicking Mike “Quick” Swick on countless exchanges en route to taking a Unanimous Decision from the American Kickboxing Academy product. Yes, I know that “quicking” isn’t a real word.
In addition to winning the fight, Hardy also earned the right to face welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre upon his return, a point that was cemented by St-Pierre’s in-ring appearance after the fight.
Before Saturday night, Hardy was best known for his red Mohawk and winning both the war of words and in-ring battle waged with Marcus Davis earlier this summer. Disposing of divisional gatekeeper Davis set the stage for Hardy to take a step up the ladder, and when original opponent Dong Hyun Kim came up lame, the chance to climb an extra rung opened up.
Though Hardy had been impressive in putting away Akihiro Gono, Rory Markham and the aforementioned “Irish Hand Grenade,” Swick was surely the toughest test of his career, and a true measuring stick for the man from Nottingham.
Heading into the co-headliner, the AKA member has only tasted defeat twice: dropping a decision to Yushin Okami at UFC 69, and getting knocked out by Chris Leben before appearing on Season 1 of The Ultimate Fighter, with both of those bouts taking place at middleweight.
From the opening bell, Hardy was the more precise striker, connecting with counters throughout the bout and beating Swick at his own game. The guy who made a habit of being the one who landed early and often was on the receiving end of a technical display, as promised.
While Hardy didn’t deliver on his prediction of a knockout, he staggered Swick on multiple occasions, though he inexplicably went in for the takedown each time he left his opponent standing on rubbery legs.
After picking Swick apart for fifteen minutes, Hardy’s hand was raised and a sharp-dressed man stepped into the cage to congratulate him.
Here’s where the good times end for Dan Hardy.
Enjoy the win. Celebrate. Take a couple weeks off, but then, get back to the gym with the rest of the Rough House team and train harder than you ever have before.
Not to take anything away from “The Outlaw,” but Mike Swick and Georges St-Pierre are two different animals. In fact, there aren’t many in the sport with the same collection of skills and abilities as the welterweight champion, perhaps none.
As good as Hardy looked in handing Swick just the third defeat of his career; and he looked very good — that Dan Hardy doesn’t stand a chance against a full-healed and well-rested “Rush.”
Let’s put it this way: GSP has spent 70 minutes in the cage over his last three fights throwing two of the best welterweights in the world and arguably the best lightweight (and a former welterweight champion) from pillar-to-post without much resistance.
I know what you’re thinking and this the part where I beat you to the punch, bringing up the Matt Serra fight before you have a chance to use that as evidence of what Hardy could hypothetically offer.
Yes, Serra caught St-Pierre, stunned him and took away his title in what is still the biggest upset in the history of the sport.
But as much as Dana White reminds us that “anything can happen,” that axiom is no longer applicable to fights involving Georges St-Pierre.
Since getting clipped and coughing up his welterweight title to Serra at UFC 69, each and every St-Pierre fight has been a wrestling clinic, with three of the six going to the scorecards. Matt Hughes and Matt Serra each got wrestled to the ground before getting stopped by an armbar and strikes respectively, while B.J. Penn’s corner decided four rounds of eating elbows on the canvas was more than enough for their charge.
The once-dynamic striker who dropped Matt Hughes with a highlight reel headkick has traded in trading blows with his opponents in exchange for dragging them to the ground and keeping them there. Don’t expect the formula to change when it comes to Dan Hardy.
Of course, every round starts standing, giving Hardy at least one opportunity to let loose with his heavy hands and catch the French-Canadian with a Serra-esque shot. That being said, it’s highly recommended that Hardy spend a great deal of time with his jiu jitsu coach Eddie Bravo, figuring out ways to minimize the number of elbows and punches he takes each and every time St-Pierre puts him on his back.
I can see the over-dramatic, post-win commercial now:
Voice-over Guy: Hey Dan Hardy — you just won the biggest fight of your life. What are you going to do now?
Hardy: “I’m going to get my ass handed to me by Georges St-Pierre!”
Enjoy the MMA equivalent of EuroDisney Danny Boy… and congratulations on the big win!