How much can we congratulate Dan Hardy for beating Amir Sadollah?
No offense to Sadollah, but he should have no illusions about the matchmaking for this fight. It was a gift to Hardy to get a big win for the hometown hero against a strong but very beatable opponent.
That's not to say that Dan Hardy isn't improving, though.
While he could've tried to grit it out on the feet and slug his way to another win, the British star made a practical decision and showcased some decent wrestling against the skilled Sambo practitioner.
That's commendable, but it also wasn't as exciting as his last five fights.
If Dan Hardy had been fighting anywhere outside England, you wouldn't have heard such a huge crowd reaction. All the cheers from Hardy's fellow countrymen made the co-main event feel a lot bigger than it really was, especially in the later rounds.
Then again, Hardy was 1-5 in his last five fights before tonight, so this new balanced combat style might be best for him in the long run.
In fact, Dan Hardy's seven takedown attempts in this fight were more than he's done in his five previous fights combined. He also kept pressing them when he really didn't have to after finding his comfort zone and getting the better of Sadollah in exchanges on the feet.
That's an especially good thing to see given Hardy's past attitude toward the ground game.
Hopefully, "The Outlaw" will continue to improve his wrestling and takedowns, because against an NCAA-level grappler or a true submission expert, he'll get eaten alive.
Seeing Dan Hardy round out his MMA game should be comforting to his fans. He'll save his chin a few more bashings down the road, especially against fighters with bigger, sharper punches.
(As good as Hardy can be, there's little chance he'll win a shootout with the likes of Martin Kampmann, Johny Hendricks, Nick Diaz, Jake Ellenberger or even Josh Koscheck.)
Moreover, Amir Sadollah is the kind of fighter who usually manages to drag everyone he faces into tepid battles of attrition, so maybe I'm wrong about this whole thing. But either way, Dan Hardy may be well served to continue becoming less of a "stand and bang" fighter and more technical further on into the remainder of his career.