• UFC Nottingham

Dan Hardy 2.0 bloodies up Sadollah

ESPN staff
September 29, 2012
Dan Hardy now has back-to-back wins in the UFC © Getty Images

Dan Hardy has answered his horror spell of four losses with back-to-back wins after he won an absolutely absorbing war with Amir Sadollah at UFC on Fuel 5 on Saturday.

Fighting in his hometown of Nottingham Hardy displayed his vast improvement as a mixed martial artist, completing several significant takedowns as he bloodied Sadollah en route to a 29-28 29-28 30-27 unanimous decision victory.

Hardy, now working in the US with a host of top names such as Frank Mir, Vitor Belfort and Georges St-Pierre, not only got the better of Sadollah on his feet but really went to town on the mat, showing a new side to him that might just elevate him once more into the upper echelons of the welterweight division.

The opening stanza proved to be extremely tight, Hardy looking to land with his vicious left hook, while Sadollah found a home for his uppercut. Both men found success, and it was fitting that the round ended with both men hitting the canvas simultaneously after an attempted takedown by the Brit.

Hardy started the second stanza far better, mixing in kicks to open windows for his hands. A couple of successful takedown attempts also swung the round heavily in his favour, and he went to work again in the third, dropping Sadollah before landing more takedowns to leave his foe dripping in claret.

"I've always dreamed of fighting here for the UFC," Hardy said. "I like a war as much as all you guys, but I had to be smart and I really enjoyed the fight. The only thing that would be better would be bringing the belt back."

In the main event, Stefan Struve showed he is becoming a genuine force in the heavyweight division, delivering a brutal second-round stoppage against Stipe Miocic. In a superb back-and-forth that saw both men wobble, it was Struve who forced the TKO at 3.50 of the second stanza.

Miocic's accuracy was unerring in round one, showing excellent boxing skills to arguably edge it. But Struve had him rocked early in the second and almost found the finish. Instead, Miocic fired back to wobble his rival, but Struve quickly recovered to hammer his man with uppercuts against the cage.

Knockout of the Night, and the biggest intake of breath on the night, went to Brad Pickett, who delivered a quite sensational first-round knockout of Yves Jabouin in the bantamweight division. Jabouin had never suffered a clean KO in his MMA career but he was instantly out at 3.20 of the first stanza after a shuddering uppercut.

Pickett is a top-five 135-pounder, no doubt about it, and he took on a striker in Jabouin who is extremely polished - particularly when fighting off the back foot. Early on the Brit ate a few shots, not to mention a knee and a head kick, but he picked the perfect moment to sway and launch an uppercut so heavy that even Dana White was off his seat.

Kyle Kingsbury took a battering from Jim Manuwa © Getty Images

"With a name like One Punch, that's a lot of pressure, especially when I haven't had a knockout for a while," Pickett said. "That guy, for me, is technically the best striker in the division. I'd like to fight somebody ranked above me now."

The crowd had earlier been silenced by the lightweight battle between Paul Sass and Matt Wiman, which surprisingly finished with Sass being submitted by the American. Previously undefeated, and carrying an exceptional submissions record of his own, the Brit got caught in an armbar at 3.48 in round one.

Sass started the fight superbly, landing an instant takedown before firing off some ground-and-pound. He threatened with his trademark triangle but then wound up in an awkward position, facing the opposite direction to Wiman, who took full advantage for the submission victory.

The all-British battle between John Hathaway and John Maguire proved a major anti-climax as Maguire barely threw anything in a tight, underwhelming affair in which the crowd did not know which man to support. In the end Hathaway's more active striking, in addition to his ground dominance in the second round, earned him a 30-27 decision in the eyes of all three judges.

The pair had worked together in the past and Maguire appeared daunted by the prospect of facing a former training partner, proving gun-shy as Hathaway boxed and kneed his way to the first round. A long period of ground-and-pound in the second enhanced his control in the fight, and he rode out a decision that will prove instantly forgettable despite Maguire's late ground attack.

The main card started in anti-climactic fashion, with Duane Ludwig forced to stop his fight with Che Mills at 2.28 of round one after blowing his knee. However, Mills had applied plenty of pressure on the ground to cause the injury and was well on top when the bout reached its premature conclusion.


Tom Watson's long awaited UFC debut at middleweight failed to go to plan as Brad Tavares earned a split 30-27 28-29 29-28 decision after a largely stand-up war. Watson came to fight, as promised, but Tavares proved too sharp as he regularly beat the Brit to the punch, throwing in the odd takedown to sway the judges.

Watson had to fend off a serious rear naked choke attempt in the second, and also had to hold his hand up to a couple of low blows, but Dana White certainly cannot complain at his willingness to engage after what was a pulsating encounter.

One of the stars of the night proved - rather predictably - to be welterweight Gunnar Nelson, the Jiu-Jitsu whizz handed his black belt by Renzo Gracie. Making his UFC debut Nelson needed 3.34 of the first round to lock a rear naked choke on DaMarques Johnson, who came in overweight after missing the limit.

Jason Young lasted 23 seconds against Robbie Peralta © Getty Images

Nelson opened up with a flashy head kick before completing his first takedown attempt. From there he worked to mount and then took Johnson's back, landing a couple of heavy shots to open the opportunity for an impressively easy finish.

The night started in dire fashion for the UK, with Jason Young suffering a first-round knockout after only 23 seconds of action against Robbie Peralta. Young absorbed a huge blow to the body followed by a crunching right hook that turned out the lights before any of the follow-up blows landed.

"I stepped back and got caught with a three punch combination moving to the left and before you know it I'm down and that's it," a disappointed Young commented.

Elsewhere, Andy Ogle and Akira Corassani put on one of the fights of the night at featherweight, won via controversial - yet arguably correct - split decision 29-28 27-30 29-28 by Corassani. The Brit dropped his foe in round one only to have the favour returned on him. He then finished round two on top - although he was dropped seconds after the bell, before he controlled Corassani in the last - landing some nasty elbows to leave the crowd disgusted as the scores were rendered.

And Jimi Manuwa put Kyle Kingsbury through arguably the beating of his life, winning by doctor stoppage at the end of the second round in their light-heavyweight battle. Manuwa threw - and landed - every weapon in his armoury, smashing his rival with bad intentions. Kingsbury ate flying knees, savage uppercuts, a range of hooks and body shots - yet still kept coming - eventually stopped when his left eye closed shut.

"I feel bad, I needed that win, I take my hat off to Jimi," Kingsbury said. "I need to take some time and do some soul searching, figure out if this is still something I want to do."

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