MOORE’S UK MMA BLOG: Dan Hardy, Paul Sass wins at UFC 146 continue solid year for UK fighters in the UFC

Posted on May 28th, 2012 by Rich in Martial Arts Resources

By: Dan Moore, MMATorch UK Contributor


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Victories for UK fighters just keep on coming so far this year. Dan Hardy and Paul Sass were both first round winners at UFC 146, and thankfully both did the job by sticking to what they are good at.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, losing consecutive fights to GSP, Carlos Condit, an oversized Anthony Johnson and Chris Lytle is nothing to be ashamed of. Admittedly Hardy knows he has been very lucky to keep his job in the UFC, but giving him another chance was the right decision to make. He got hyped to the moon and catapulted into a title fight far before he was ever ready, and Lorenzo Fertitta knew it and cut Hardy some slack. Fighting the likes of Duane Ludwig is exactly where Hardy needs to be right now, and the year out has clearly reinvigorated him.

Hardy is a showman, he has a great marketable image, and he always puts on an exciting fight if his opponent is willing to do likewise. Even earlier in the fight, it showed again that he still has plenty to learn. It wasn’t exactly one sided and Ludwig caught Hardy several times, yet never managed to capitalize on them. It was a very solid and well executed trademark left hook that secured the win. But it could have easily gone the other way in favor of Ludwig at any stage of that first round. Hardy caught a break for a change and I’m delighted for him.

It makes all the sense in the world to see him fight on the next UK card, in his hometown of Nottingham on Sept. 29. His name value will likely mean he is at least in the co-main event on that card. Siyar Bahadurzada would have been my first choice of opponent, but he’s already booked for a fight at UFC 149.

How about a fight with Che Mills, in an all English co main event, pitting two very effective strikers against each other? That’s my personal preference, but I doubt it will happen anytime soon, as I expect Dan Hardy to be announced as a coach for the TUF UK vs. Australia series. Especially if Brian Ebersole comes through his fight with T.J. Waldburger next month uninjured. The Nottingham card will probably be too early for a coaches fight, so it might be a case of one or the other for Hardy. I really hope he pushes to fight in his hometown, but he’s not really in a position to turn down the TUF coaching gig if that’s what the UFC decides.

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Speaking of the TUF UK vs. Australia series, expect the Plan B choice to feature Ross Pearson and George Sotiropoulos.

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Paul Sass is a human submission machine. You know what he’s going to do, yet there is no way on this earth you can stop it. Jacob Volkmann knew exactly what Sass was going to do on Saturday night, and therefore probably focused his entire fight camp figuring out how to counter it, yet it counted for nothing. Volkmann is no fool. He was on a five fight win streak (including a win over Paul Kelly), and rightly considered the bookmakers pre-fight favorite. Paul Sass might not be an elite striker or wrestler, but he’s that good on his back that it doesn’t matter right now.

With every passing victory he’s constantly training and evolving in other areas, so by the time he does meet someone truly elite, he’s got a Plan B if they figure out how to stop his submission game. Again, the timing fits nicely for Sass to fight on the Nottingham card. T.J. Grant has looked impressive in his last two outings against Shane Roller and Carlo Prater and he would be another very tough test for Sass. I’d like to think the UFC learned from their mistakes with Hardy (and Etim to some extent) and don’t throw Sass in with a top 10 opponent before he’s ready. After all, the lightweight division isn’t exactly short of potential high calibre opponents right now. There are plenty of suitable opponents for Sass’ next fight.

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I was disappointed to hear that Andy Ogle won’t be amongst those fighting in the TUF finale next Friday night due to a minor injury. Ogle did better than anyone expected on this series, and fully deserves to get a fight in the UFC. As mentioned on the last episode, he’s been promised a place on the Nottingham card which is great news. He also has the advantage of another three months of training to prepare for his UFC debut unlike those fighting next week.

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If you’re reading this by mistake, and you’re not an MMA fan, then have a look at www.mtv.co.uk/sports/mma/episode/mixed-martial-arts-what-is-mma where you’ll find a small three minute video explaining the basics of Mixed Martial Arts. It’s not worth watching if you know the difference between BJJ and Muay Thai, but it’s been well produced by BAMMA and does exactly what it says on the tin to help entice new fans of the sport.

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I’ve already mentioned it before, but the next UFC event seems locked in for Sept 29 in Nottingham. I’m sure those campaigning for it to take place in Liverpool will be quite rightly aggrieved that their claim to host the event has fallen on deaf ears. Whilst I would have loved to see it in Liverpool, I am just pleased there is going to be a card this year, and I’d have travelled to see it wherever it took place. Dan Hardy, John Maguire, Brad Pickett, John Hathaway, Paul Sass, Jason Young and Che Mills supporting a top named main event of Alexander Gustafsson vs. Rampage Jackson, perhaps?

“Sounds far fetched,” you cry, but hear me out. Gustafsson, lest we forget, is European, so enticing him into fighting closer to Sweden shouldn’t be too difficult. Rampage, having fought here before, has many links to the UK, none more so than his current team Wolfslair. Maybe not as far fetched as I first thought. Either way I’d be amazed if it was anything more than a FUEL TV event like the superb Stockholm card was last month. For the continental folk amongst us, I’d also add Stefan Struve, Dennis Siver and possibly Martin Kampmann if he loses to Jake Ellenberger next month. That has the making of an epic UK event; however, should Kampmann win next week, he becomes a real title contender, and therefore I can guarantee he won’t be on any FUEL TV UK card in September.

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For those that have asked me recently, nothing has been announced regarding the next UFC TV contract which is scheduled to start this August. The longer it’s delayed, the more inclined I am to think ESPN have got another three years. It doesn’t take much but they annoyed me again last night when they continued to air the USA vs. Scotland friendly which overran slightly. I know their bread and butter is football, it’s the No. 1 sport in the UK, but seriously, just how many American or Scottish football fans actually stayed up and watched that last night? I prey for a miracle that they don’t get to renew their current deal.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter @MMATorchDan

[Dan Hardy art by Cory Gould (c) MMATorch.com]

Source: http://www.mmatorch.com/artman2/publish/Staff_Editorials_19/article_13440.shtml

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