Dan Hardy was enjoying a big hometown crowd advantage as he took on Amir Sadollah. In what was expected to be mainly a stand up battle, Hardy instead chose to mix in some of his wrestling that he has been working on.
It helped turn the tide of the fight as Hardy was able to score valuable points and won the fight via unanimous decision. The two men exchanged strikes in the first round, but Hardy was able to utilize his ground game in the second and third rounds to seal the victory.
This was perhaps the best Hardy has ever looked in a fight. There were times when we saw the Brit show flashes of brilliance on the feet, but it appears as if Hardy has finally put all of the pieces together. Now, instead of being a one-trick pony kind of fighter, Hardy's opponents will need to prepare for a takedown or two following his stinging punches.
With his second-straight victory behind him, the question is where does Hardy go from here?
Hardy is stuck in a rather odd predicament at this point in his career. He's a talented fighter who is continuing to grow as a complete MMA fighter, but he isn't ready to face the upper talent kind of guys at the moment.
Yet, that's likely where he will find himself due to his ability to generate interest. It's a quality that allowed Hardy to keep his job despite losing four-straight fights in the Octagon.
The UFC should bring Hardy along slowly, like a prospect waiting in the wings, but they will likely push him onto a pay-per-view card in the near future. That means a step up in competition from the inconsistent Sadollah.
It'd be a shame for the UFC to do that, however, as the welterweight division doesn't have a shortage of challengers at this time. Hardy will always be a great commodity for the UFC to sell cards and there's no reason to rush him up the rankings only to see him falter.
I'd like to see him face the winner of the Paulo Thiago vs. Dong Hyun Kim contest. Both men present unique challenges that would show us just how far Hardy's ground game has come. If the UFC wants another stand up battle for "The Outlaw," look for him to face someone like Thiago Alves once the Brazilian returns from injury.