Dan "The Outlaw" Hardy is my new favorite fighter in the UFC's welterweight division. A rising star from the UK, Dan Hardy found himself in the co-main event at UFC 95 in only his second appearance in the octagon.
Well spoken, humble, with a wry sense of humor, Hardy was called on to promote the London event in lieu of the usual voice of British MMA, Michael Bisping. Hardy, ever grateful for the road Bisping has paved, thanked his middleweight countryman in nearly every interview.
While Hardy portrays himself as an octagon rookie, especially when asked about where he fits into the UFC's welterweight picture, he is actually a veteran fighter with a considerable record. Fighting primarily in the Cage Warriors and Cage Force promotions, he earned a record of 19-6 before signing with the UFC.
Hardy won a split decision against the formidable Akihiro Gono at his UFC 89 debut. After battering Gono for two rounds, Hardy was struck with an illegal knee which caused the fight to be stopped for a few minutes while he recovered. This was a huge win for Hardy, as Gono recently took top-tier, welterweight-fighter Jon Fitch to a decision as well.
The most important question in this writer's mind is when we'll see the red mohawked fighter in the octagon again? He made quick work of Markham, knocking him out in just over a minute of action and receiving very little damage in return.
While Markham could seem like a step down from Gono he was a good challenge, as his brawling style and punching power can end fights quickly. Much like Michael Bisping, I think the UFC will do its best to protect Hardy and allow him time to add to his skill set before throwing him in the ring against the best in the division.