Georges St. Pierre continued to show why he sits atop the welterweight and pound-for-pound rankings again on Saturday night with a dominant win over Dan Hardy.
St. Pierre won a unanimous decision, never coming close to losing a round. He has now won seven straight fights against the very best the UFC has to offer.
It was a familiar script followed by GSP. He found his opponent's weakness, and he exploited it all fight long. Being a smart, disciplined fighter and doing exactly what is needed to win has made him a dominant champion.
However, despite the win, it is indeed the same thing everyone has seen before. In no way am I trying to take away from what GSP did, but Dan Hardy was more impressive in his loss than St. Pierre was in his win.
No matter where your loyalties lied prior to the fight, most felt the fight would follow a distinct path: Hardy would try for the knockout, while GSP would do everything to avoid being hit with the kill shot.
St. Pierre avoided the big shot, and Hardy spent the better part of 25 minutes on his back. They were the most important 25 minutes of his career, and he will undoubtedly reflect on that time in the coming days and become a much better fighter for it.
Hardy was never able to block any St. Pierre takedown attempt, and he paid the price while on the ground. While he never took any huge shots on the ground, he was constantly scrambling but taking punishment for the duration of each round.
Although GSP did most of the damage in the fight, he never seriously hurt Hardy with his punches, kicks, or elbows. The most serious damage was done while trying to submit the challenger.
Two different times in the fight, St. Pierre was on the verge of submitting Hardy. He caught the Brit with an armbar in the first round and a kimura in the fourth round.
Each time Hardy was in significant pain having his arms bend in ways that human limbs aren't built to bend. Much to his credit, showing the true fighting spirit of an MMA competitor, he never quit and fought his way through the submission attempts.
Hardy said afterwards that he didn't know the meaning of tap and it showed. Any other fighter in either position would have tapped out, and GSP would have pulled out the finish he was hoping for.
For surviving two such critical positions, even the harshest critics of Hardy should be impressed and respect him more than they may have prior to the fight.
It will be interesting to see what the UFC does next with Hardy. There are several fights out there that would be intriguing, and keep Hardy in the mix for a future shot for the title.
He could face the loser of the Josh Koscheck-Paul Daley fight. Koscheck would be a great classic "striker vs. grappler" match. Fighting Daley could be very exciting as both men like to stand and throw punches all night.
Hardy could also face either Jon Fitch or Thiago Alves.
Fitch could get the next title shot, but if he doesn't, Hardy would be a great opponent. Hardy has shown great work on the ground, but would he be able to catch Fitch and finish him when he shoots in for a takedown?
If Alves can get a clean bill of health, this could be a fight similar to one with Daley. Both men like to stand and trade punches.
Hardy showed a bit more off his back against St. Pierre than Alves did, but the fight would likely still turn out to be a slugfest.
A matchup with any of the four fighters would be great matches for Hardy in his quest back to a title shot.
Any fighter trying to reach the top of his game must face adversity at some point in their career. It's how the fighter deals with that adversity that will affect the rest of his career.
Anyone who isn't a fan of Hardy after UFC 111 isn't a fan of the sport. He showed the qualities that embody the greatness of mixed martial arts.
After his loss to St. Pierre, there are plenty of questions that Dan Hardy must answer going forward to make his way back up the welterweight ladder.
None of the questions will be about his heart. He answered those questions Saturday night, and he showed there is no one in the division, including the great Georges St. Pierre, with a bigger heart.
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