Firstly lets make one thing very clear, Georges Saint-Pierre dominated Dan Hardy.
At UFC 111, GSP defended his Welterweight title with a unanimous points victory over the Englishman, without allowing Hardy to lay a finger on him.
However, somehow Dan Hardy is the man who has come out of the contest with the plaudits.
GSP's performance was perfect yet again. He played to his own strengths, and didn't let Hardy use his heavy hands. Performing takedown after takedown, GSP kept Hardy on the ground throughout the contest, and pummelled him for the entire duration of the fight.
Despite the convincing manner of his victory, critics argue that GSP employed a boring style of fighting, and should have finished the fight.
Without a doubt, the tactics employed by GSP were not exciting. He didn't stand up and brawl with Hardy like we all wanted to see, but why should he?
The only thing on his mind was defending his title, and he did just that. There is no reason he should jeopardize his chances of retaining the belt just to put on a good show, no matter how much we all want to see it.
However, despite GSP's apparent reluctance to pass Hardy's guard, he did try and finish the fight, and this is where Hardy comes into play.
Twice, GSP should have won the fight. Twice, he locked in brutal submissions that could have broken his opponent's arm. And twice, Dan Hardy refused to tap.
Having locked in both an armbar, and a savage kimura, GSP pratically wrenched Hardy's arm from its socket. He could have broken Hardy's arm on either occasion, or at least caused significant ligament damage, but the Englishman showed heart that very few fighters possess.
Honestly, nobody can fathom how the Outlaw didn't tap. He just refused. Showing that sort of heart deserves to earn him accolades, whether you like him or not. The truth is, Hardy's refusal to give up, will win him the respect of Dana White, his fellow fighters, and UFC fans across the globe.
The Outlaw may not have performed well, and he was dominated, but that was expected. He was fighting a man who pummelled BJ Penn, one of the best in the business, and Penn's ground game and wrestling is a lot better than his own. Instead of just rolling over, Hardy forced GSP to keep working hard, and his stubborn refusal to tap would have left Saint-Pierre just as speechless as it left those watching the contest.
Dan Hardy was beaten, and beaten badly, but GSP was the heavy favorite. Nobody really expected Hardy to win. Nobody really expected him to make it through the duration of the fight.
GSP was perfect in his execution of his game plan, and the world knew that Hardy would not be able to cope with his takedowns or ground game. However, Hardy demonstrated that he can last five rounds, and two excruciating submissions, with the most dominant welterweight ever, and this takes the sort of heart that very few fighters possess.
Now, with a little work, nobody can deny he has a great future ahead of him.
By not submitting, the Outlaw Dan Hardy showed the world he has the heart to be a truly great fighter. He showed that he would not give up the chance to become a UFC Champion, despite the obvious risks, and the fact that he was on the end of a real beating.
For these reasons, Hardy's reputation has not taken the battering that you would expect to come with such a demoralising and comprehensive defeat. Instead, he earned the respect of the MMA community, and showed the world that Dan Hardy will not quit in his quest to become the welterweight champion.
GSP has been unfairly criticised for a dominant performance, while the man he beat comes out of the fight with a much greater fan base.
To accomplish this demonstrates how big Hardy's heart is, and it is the reason that he comes out of the fight the real winner.