Maybe you have never thought of this before looking back at how the UFC and MMA have taken over the world by storm. Aside from being an amazingly competitive and entertaining spectacle, the undeniable truth is that there were figures since the beginning of it all who’s personalities and charisma gave both a company and a sport their first popularity boosts.
If there hadn’t been a skinny guy in a gi submitting everyone left and right like Royce Gracie did, an imposing third man inside the cage screaming “Let’s Get It On” like “Big” John McCarthy did, and some really weird guys selling t-shirts out the back of their car at UFC event and getting the camera’s attention with their hardcore style and presence like the guys from Tapout did, popularity levels of the UFC and MMA would not be the same.
This fact is particularly true for UFC in theUK. There is no denying there is very good MMA competition on that side of the pond, but as far as the UFC is concerned, there are only two major draws for them in the UK—The Ultimate Fighter winner Michael Bisping and of course, Dan ”The Outlaw” Hardy.
Hardy made his way into the UFC in October 2008 at UFC 89: Bisping vs. Leben as an obvious attempt by Zuffa to strengthen a card celebrated inBirmingham,
England. “The Outlaw” oozed out a split decision against Akihiro Gono that night.
Entering the Octagon with a 19-6-1 record, ten of those victories by KO or TKO, and a few submissions to boot, Hardy quickly became a very marketable image for the UFC.
His flashy style, the red maw hawk, an intimidating mouthpiece design, the bandana across his face, and a very in-your-face attitude, Hardy became a fan favorite in cero seconds flat. Some would say that the female part of the UFC fan base has a lot to do with it.
Out of the seven times “The Outlaw” has stepped into the UFC Octagon, four of them have been on British soil, indisputable indication that his presence in the UFC corresponds to a need to reinforce British cards.
Hardy quickly piled up a four fights win streak in about 13 months (three of those on British arenas) and for a moment was thought unbeatable. That is until he contracted the near-fatal condition known now as GSPnytis, a condition affecting UFC welterweights that prevents them from taking the UFC welterweight belt.
Hardy had his chance for that belt in March 2010 when he facedGeorges St. Pierre, the first time Hardy fought for the UFC outside of Europe and only the second time fighting outsideEngland.
After losing an uncontested unanimous decision to GSP (apparently this fight was were Hardy contracted the GSPnytis), and almost losing a limb in more than one occasions in the fight, Hardy has fallen into a deep funk. A loss to welterweight slugger Carlos Condit who knocked Hardy out cold, followed by a hump-and-grind loss to Anthony Johnson, has left the once-thought-unbeatable striker probably a loss away from going bye bye into the MMA good night.
We have seen fighters get cut for much less than that, two losses in a row, even a single loss like in the case of Gerald Harris.
But, would the UFC really cut Dan Hardy if he lost again? Jose Stevenson, winner of the welterweight tournament at The Ultimate Fighter in its second season, was just cut a few days ago after an atrocious four fight losing streak.
Why would Dan Hardy be any different? Will it be a different tune for “The Outlaw” just because he is one of only a handful of fighters with which the UFC counts for when they bring events toEngland?
In a recent interview with The MMA Truth, UFC welter Mike pierce commented when asked if he thought that Hardy could be fighting for his career:
“No, I don’t think so. I think that’s something to keep on the back of his mind but, I mean, he’s one of the few good guys from the UK and I think that’s played to his advantage in one respect because when we go overseas and fight in these other countries it’s good marketing for the sport. Good marketing for the UFC and of course for him.”
In my humble opinion, as a spectator, I can’t see the UFC cutting Dan Hardy just yet if he losses his next fight and let me break down why.
First, his first loss (and the nasty case of GSPnytis) came at the hands of one of the two fighters thought to be the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world today, the UFC welterweight champion, Georges St. Pierre. Yes, I know, it was a very one-sided fight but Hardy showed great heart and determination when he resisted a horrible armbar attempt and an even uglier Kimura.
The second loss comes from the hands of Carlos Condit in an exchange where both fighters connected, Hardy simply caught the worse of it and got there a millisecond later than Condit.
Hardy got neutralized by Anthony Johnson’s wrestling who seemed content with riding Hardy for 15 minutes and squeezing out a win by points.
But now the odds are higher when Hardy faces one half of the record for most nightly bonuses won inside the UFC, the always dangerous Chri “Lights Out” Lytle.
A bout that will crown the UFC Live on Versus 5 event this Sunday, August 14, Hardy is coming up against a man that has won more fight of the night bonuses than anyone probably, and is always game for a all-out war.
Lytle has never presented a boring fight in his career in the UFC and it is difficult to think that Hardy-Lytle would be the first time. Regardless who comes out on top, there is no doubt this fight will be a candidate for fight of the year.
So, even if losing, do you really think the UFC would cut Hardy? My guess is no, they won’t. What do you think? Please leave a comment and give us your opinion.
Thanks for reading.
UPDATE: Chris "Lights Out" Lytle expanded Dan Hardy's losing streak to four losses in a row after punishing him for almost three full rounds before submitting Hardy with a guillotine choke. Our theory in this article was that even after a loss, and especially if he lost a hard fought battle, he wouldn't get cut from the promotion.
Minutes after the fight, casino mogul and one of the UFC's top dogs, Lorenzo Fertitta confirmed our theory via Twitter:
Originally posted at The MMA Truth.