The list of respected and dangerous victims is impressive. It is one that includes the men who fell under the rule of Georges St. Pierre, the current UFC welterweight Champion.
The worth of that list weighs heavily with names like Alves, Fitch, Hughes (2), Penn (2), and anyone else who dares dance with the devil known as "Rush."
Once in awhile, a fighter comes along that doesn't pay much mind to names, lists, or credentials. While all that is respectable and commendable, it doesn't hold much weight when things get thick in the cage.
Odds reflect common results, but don't account for the variables that a fight imposes.
Those variables are greatly affected by two fighters who create a certain equation. Rarely are bouts held between two fighters who already fought, so as a result, both the equation and the variable outcomes are often very different.
While one fighter may be the constant from which all challenging talents are judged, another fighter may live only to shatter that mold.
No one may see it coming.
No one may bet the farm, but when it happens, it is unmistakable.
Not every fighter can do it, and sometimes the least likely of which are the ones that do happen to do it.
Shocking the world is no easy task and let's face it, if the world knew it was coming, how shocked would they really be?
If I am a fighter and the focus of the world is on the man I am supposed to beat, then surely they are underestimating the fact that I made it here on my own two feet, and can do what it is that I do against the guy that no one else can seem to beat.
It's my turn to try. And I have no intention of losing.
Alas I am not a fighter, not in the practical sense of the word, but I do understand pride and dignity. I fully understand and appreciate the desire of a man to prove to everyone who ever doubted him that he can do anything you dare tell him he cannot.
I can appreciate a man who few, if any, give an ounce of credit to with regard to toppling odds that most would not dare bet against, much less attempt to sway, through the actions necessary to truly impact the outcome of a fight no one seems to think he can win.
It is that type of grit, desire, and confidence that will be necessary to stop a force like the one Dan Hardy will face later this month. It is going to take the type of guy who may recognize and respect that type of elite talent, but keep believing in himself regardless.
The Outlaw strikes me as that type of man. He is the type who knows what he is up against, but he continues to smile and know that his variables have never been in a cage with GSP.
GSP has never faced the shuck and the jive of Hardy; he has never been hit by Hardy; and he has never had to try and break a man like Hardy.
Hardy is the type of guy that knows that he is that variable in the equation. He is what is necessary for an unprescribed outcome.
GSP has always been there, Dan Hardy has not.
That is what is intriguing about his upcoming match with the champ.
In addition to the simple math, it would seem Hardy—for the first time on the big stage—may be motivated by more than just his opponent this time out.
Those odds mentioned before have a lot of people clinging to the "Rush" bandwagon, and rightfully so, the man is simply an amazing fighter.
But the fact that people get so hung up on the star of one fighter, sometimes leaves the odd man out with a lot more to prove than maybe he might against just any other opponent.
Count a man out and make it apparent to him, and you inadvertently motivate him more so than any one fight may do.
Make no mistake, no one in their right minds is going to bet the farm on Dan Hardy. There are a lot of questions surrounding a fighter who burst on the scene as the "Outlaw" has, but in his short tenure in the UFC, he has answered more questions than he posed.
While those answers may not seem direct enough to answer the myriad of questions surrounding GSP, sometimes it only takes the right answer to the right question.
Once again, we focus where we like to convince ourselves of an assured outcome, but it is a fine line isn't it?
When we talk about take downs, and how they will be defended, sometimes we overlook a right hand and how it can be avoided.
When we talk about ground and pound, we forget about the ability to submit from ones back.
When we talk about cardio, we overlook first-round knockouts.
While there are many points to be made as to why Rush is as good as he is, there are many points to be made about Hardy as to why GSP may not get a chance to show us all once again why he has that belt.
We know more about the champ than we do the challenger, and that in and of itself may be the very reason we should pause and really take a closer look.
Because what we know of the champ is that he will dominate; he will impose his game; he will bring the odds with him; and he will do all he can to prove those odds true.
We also know the champ is human, sometimes we forget or pass it off as a fluke, but GSP has shown holes in his armor—however small they may be.
Dan Hardy has seen them too.
And if he gets to knocking the wheels off that bandwagon come UFC 111, there is one MMA fan out there who may not be uber surprised.
Momentum is a strange thing.
As we already know with GSP, the best can be rattled. Momentum can go both ways as history would have it.
Not all godlike fighters are created equal but consider for a moment that they are all merely human. Just ask Mauricio "Shogun" Rua how indestructible the unsolvable Lyoto Machida is.
Ask Brett Rogers or Andrei Arlovski if they think Fedor is unbeatable. I assure you we already know their answers.
So while they may remain unbeaten, it is painfully obvious in some cases, that it is not by sheer impossibility alone. They remain unbeaten because the final proverbial nail could not be driven into the coffin in those fights.
Rest assured, Dan Hardy will have his bags and his hammer come fight night, and will be looking to bury GSP.
That is what everyone seems to be missing. Hardy is not coming to lay down, he is coming to throw down.
Who are we to say it can't be done?
Who are we to forget that it has happened before?
Who are we to assume anything in this sport?
By now, we should know better shouldn't we?