UFC 146: Dan Hardy vs. Duane Ludwig Head-to-Toe Breakdown
After a long absence from the cage, the time has finally come for Dan Hardy to attempt to avoid his fifth straight loss, which would almost surely lead to his departure from the UFC. Hardy's must-win fight will take place on the preliminary card of UFC 146 against Duane Ludwig.
Having lost three of his past five fights, Ludwig could also use a win on Saturday to get his career back on track. In his most recent appearance in January, Ludwig was choked unconscious by a Josh Neer rear-naked choke.
As we approach a bout that will be crucial for the future of both fighters, let's take a look at whether Hardy or Ludwig have a better chance to get back in the win column on the UFC 146 preliminary card.
Dan Hardy's striking is recognized as his strongest asset, but he will have his hands full with Duane Ludwig in that area. That said, a bout with a fellow striker will be welcomed by Hardy, who has had the most difficulty with wrestlers during his career.
Earlier in his MMA career, Ludwig also competed as a kickboxer. During his kickboxing career, Ludwig earned multiple titles in both the amateur and professional ranks.
With one fewer MMA fight than Hardy, Ludwig also has one fewer knockout. However, Ludwig's knockouts have come against some solid competition like Jens Pulver. Meanwhile, Hardy's most impressive knockout was against Rory Markham, who was released after three fights with the UFC.
The more technical striker and the fighter who uses kicks more effectively, Ludwig should be able to out-land his British opponent in a fight that will most likely remain standing for the majority of three rounds.
Neither Dan Hardy nor Duane Ludwig are planning on taking this fight to the ground. Both fighters prefer to stand and bang, which is exactly what they will do for 15 minutes on Saturday night.
However, throwing in a surprise takedown attempt might not be a bad idea for either competitor, as neither fighter is good at defending takedowns or particularly dangerous off their back. If one of these fighters worked extensively on their wrestling during this training camp, a single takedown could easily win a round for them if they are smart in the top position.
The six and four submissions included on the respective resumes of Duane Ludwig and Dan Hardy are somewhat misleading. Three of Hardy's four submissions came due to injury or strikes, while only two of Ludwig's submission wins were a product of what most would consider a traditional submission hold or choke.
It would be surprising enough if this fight went to the ground. The chances of either of these fighters locking up a submission at UFC 146 is minimal.
In most cases, taking as much time off as Dan Hardy has since losing to Chris Lytle in August 2011 would be a major disadvantage heading into a fight with an opponent who has remained more active. However, after losing four straight fights, Hardy was in a situation where taking a break from competition to improve actually made the most sense.
On Saturday, it is possible we will see a whole new Hardy against Duane Ludwig. Even if he hasn't improved drastically, Hardy still carries a significant reach advantage into a bout that will likely turn into a kickboxing match.
Although Duane Ludwig is the more technical striker, Dan Hary's reach advantage will help him in this match. Also, don't be surprised if "The Outlaw" mixes in a rare takedown attempt to score some points with the judges.
This fight will be very closely contested with both fighters standing, but a new Hardy will emerge victorious for the first time since November 2009 by displaying a more well-rounded attack throughout the three-round bout.
As quickly as he has fallen over the past couple of years, Hardy belongs in the UFC and will prove it with an entertaining win over Ludwig. Meanwhile, Ludwig will take his opponent's place as one of the welterweights most in need of a win to keep their UFC career alive.
Prediction: Hardy defeats Ludwig by decision.