UFC Live: Hardy vs. Lytle Preview, Top 4 Storylines from Free Card
This Sunday, the UFC will hold its fifth card on Versus, of which many of the bouts will have significant ramifications for the lightweight and welterweight divisions in particular.
As Dan Hardy looks to rebound from three consecutive losses after already receiving what looks to be his last hall pass, he will take on the always entertaining Chris Lytle.
Meanwhile, in the lightweight division, Jim Miller will look to solidify his bid for No. 1 contender status against former WEC Lightweight Champion Ben Henderson.
Elsewhere, the young up-and-coming Charles Oliveira will take on Donald Cerrone in a bout a little lower down the lightweight ladder as Cerrone will hope to insert himself amongst the divisions elite. For his part, Oliveira will be looking to add the veteran's name to his list of wins.
After June's Versus event, fans may not expect to see quite as much drama, but they can expect some very important results to come from the night's bouts.
Here are four things to watch for in the UFC Live: Hardy vs. Lytle card.
Jim Miller as the No. 1 Contender
Should Jim Miller defeat Ben Henderson this Sunday, he will cement his place as next in line for a title shot against the winner of Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard III.
Miller has been a man possessed as he's flirted with Jon Fitch status, surging up the lightweight ladder and tearing through his opponents since his last loss to Maynard back in 2009. The notable difference between Miller and Fitch is that the former has been finishing opponents in the process.
However, Jim has done so quietly and flown under the radar for most of the time.
This time however, should he win, he'll be granted the biggest fight of his career in the UFC's clogged lightweight division where he's become the consensus No. 3.
A win over Henderson will mean that Miller's time has finally come and he will be denied no longer. More importantly, we will be able to see one of the UFC's best lightweights finally compete on a bigger stage.
What If Ben Henderson Wins?
Should Ben Henderson win this Sunday, he will have dethroned the man whom many believe to be the No. 3 in the UFC's lightweight division.
Prior to his arrival in the UFC, Henderson lost his WEC Lightweight Championship to Anthony Pettis in a bout that was highlighted by Pettis' famous "Showtime Kick."
Before that, Henderson had been running through challengers to his title. After the infamous loss, he made his UFC debut, beating up Mark Bocek en route to a unanimous decision victory.
Now, Henderson finds himself in a position to steal away Jim Miller's momentum, potentially place himself a fight away from a title shot and back on the road to a world title.
Oliveira vs. Cerrone
While Donald Cerrone has fought for a world title before—against Ben Henderson for the WEC Lightweight title—"Cowboy" has yet to get his name into the UFC's crowded lightweight division's title mix.
This Sunday, he'll be up against a young up-and-comer in Charles Oliveira who is also on the brink of contender status.
Cerrone is coming off a decisive unanimous decision victory, which saw him brutalize replacement Vagner Rocha at UFC 131.
Oliveira, on the other hand, is looking to rebound from his no contest bout at the last UFC on Versus card (UFC Live: Barry vs. Kongo) in which he landed an illegal knee.
Both Cerrone and Oliveira are solid strikers while being capable of pulling out a submission from almost anywhere. Cerrone is arguably the better striker of the two while Oliveira's submission game is more polished.
The two should make for an exciting fight, but the aftermath is what will be interesting to see. The winner will likely come out in good positioning to put together a string of wins to make a run at the title.
Can Dan Hardy Come Back from the Brink of Termination?
If this indeed Dan Hardy's final bout in the UFC, at least he is going out with a bit of flair.
Headlining this Sunday's card against Chris Lytle, "The Outlaw" will look to bounce back from his three consecutive defeats to UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre, Carlos Condit and Anthony Johnson.
Against Lytle, Hardy will be facing a durable veteran with a penchant for turning fights into exhaustive-yet-entertaining affairs.
Hardy has made a name for himself with his brash personality and solid left hook. Lately, however, he's fallen prey to the vulnerability plaguing many British fighter: weak wrestling.
And now it seems as though simply wrestling with Hardy is the blueprint to defeating him. By negating that knockout punch, an opponent has basically won.
Lytle may not fall back to using that tactic, though, as his fights are often more entertaining bouts rather than glorified wrestling matches. In that sense, at least Hardy has something to look forward to.
But while Lytle may be willing to oblige Hardy in a slugfest, he is certainly no pushover.
The five-time Fight of the Night winner will obviously be a challenge for Hardy. Should Hardy lose, it will definitely add luster to Lytle's already long and storied career.
For Hardy, the bout is more of a do-or-die affair as a loss would not only boot him from the UFC, but also show that maybe his win over Mike Swick was all Hardy really had going for him.