Judges need to punish lay-and-pray tactics - Hardy

ESPN staff
September 7, 2010

Dan Hardy has claimed it is the UFC judging, not British wrestling, that needs to improve following defeats for Andre Winner and Nick Osipczak at UFC 118.

Hardy, a Rough House team-mate of the pair, watched in frustration as both men lost points decisions, with Winner's defeat to Nik Lentz particularly galling. Emerging with barely a scratch on him, Winner walked away a beaten man after Lentz produced 15 minutes of 'lay-and-pray'- taking the Brit to the mat without making any effort to inflict damage.

Hardy has faced plenty of questions over British wrestling in the past after he and Paul Daley were dominated by Georges St-Pierre and Josh Koscheck, but the Outlaw insists the UFC must make sure fighters are coming to fight, rather than doing their best to avoid one.

"Nik Lentz didn't come to fight Andre, he actually came to avoid one at all costs, like he'd be shortlisted for the Nobel Peace Prize and didn't want to mess up his chances of winning it," Hardy told the Nottingham Evening Post. "Lentz grabbed hold of Dre's leg for three coma-inducing rounds, which the ticket-paying public clearly didn't appreciate. It was a real shame he did that. The fight was live on American TV and a great showcase for both guys, but Lentz just didn't want to fight.

"He couldn't take Dre down or get anything going on the ground. He didn't want to strike and he didn't go for any submissions, he just clung to Dre's thigh like a sailor to a mast during a storm. Physically, Dre looked in great shape... but it takes two to have a row and he was in there with the UFC's answer to Gandhi."

Andre Winner came looking for a knockout © Getty Images

Elaborating on the need for an action-promoting points system, Hardy echoed the recent comments of BJ Penn that too many opponents are making a career out of narrow decisions rather than fight-ending finishes.

"I've been asked if another two losses in addition to my loss to George St-Pierre and Paul Daley's defeat to Josh Koscheck shows that the Rough House needs to bring in new wrestling coaches in order to be successful in the UFC," said Hardy. "I've just spent three months on my wrestling in the USA and I can tell you we all work very hard on all aspects of our game. We are all improving all the time and the reality is me and Paul lost to the two best wrestlers in the sport in GSP and Koscheck.

"Andre encountered an opponent who simply didn't want to fight. Rather than saying 'oh, these guys can't wrestle', I think the problem is there's beginning to be too much wrestling in UFC Octagon, not too little of it in the gym. There are a lot of people out there calling themselves 'UFC fighters' who are nothing of the kind.

"In the UFC, you should go for finishes. You should work for 15 minutes to knock your opponent out, submit him, or improve your position to give yourself the best chance of doing either. But there's guys out there who just want to use wrestling to hold a stalemate for 15 minutes, without ever risking going for ground and pounds or attempting submissions.

"This isn't 'cheating within the rules' - it is actually against the rules. 'Timidity' is outlawed in the Unified MMA rules and what better describes the act of holding on to an opponent and waiting for the clock to tick down with no attempt or inclination to do any damage?

"And that's not the same as saying all UFC bouts have to be kickboxing or Thai boxing matches in order to be entertaining. That's not what I am saying. One of the best fights of the year was George Sotiropoulos - who is a friend of mine and a guy I am tipping to win the lightweight title next year - beating Joe Stevenson at UFC 110. About 13 of the 15-minute war was on the ground, but both guys were going for submissions, ground strikes, sweeps or trying to improve their positions constantly. Neither of them secured top position so they could essentially stop fighting, which, quite honestly, is what is beginning to happen in the UFC.

"The Athletic Commissions need to look at the scoring and refereeing to stop this from becoming a problem. If a guy is in a dominant position, but not actually doing anything offensive - stand 'em back up. If he is consistently trying to tie the other guy up to avoid actual fighting - warn him and then start taking points. It is supposed to be a fight."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.