• UFC Fight Night 24

Hardy labels Rumble Johnson his 'perfect opponent'

ESPN staff
January 10, 2011
Dan Hardy responded to his last back-to-back losses by stringing together five straight victories © Getty Images

Dan Hardy has rejected suggestions that he should have avoided the dangerous Anthony "Rumble" Johnson after confirming the pair are set to fight at UFC Fight Night 24.

The welterweight battle will take place on March 26, acting as the co-main event underneath Tito Ortiz's make-or-break battle with Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. Contracts are expected to be signed before the end of January.

Hardy is determined to bounce back from consecutive defeats in 2010, having dropped a unanimous decision to Georges St-Pierre before suffering the first knockout of his career against Carlos Condit. Johnson also needs a victory after losing his last fight to Josh Koscheck, and the 6ft 2in American has not set foot inside the Octagon since November 2009.

The last time Hardy lost back-to-back fights was in 2006, and he answered his critics with a five-fight winning streak. Now he plans a similar response against one of the UFC's biggest welterweights.

"The fight with Rumble Johnson in Seattle is the perfect fight for both of us," Hardy was quoted as saying by the Nottingham Evening Post. "He's coming off a loss and a year lay-off and needs a good win to remind people of what he can do.

"I am coming off a bad loss and have something to prove as well. Both of us are desperate for a win and neither can afford a loss. It's a great match, I think the best match on the card and the one the fans will look forward to."

Johnson has lethal striking, twice putting Koscheck in serious trouble before losing to a rear naked choke, and questions have been raised over Hardy's decision to take such a dangerous fight. The Briton is not interested in padding out his MMA record though, insisting there is only one way to return to the top of 170lb division.

"There aren't any easy fights in the UFC," said Hardy. "Why shouldn't I fight Rumble now? I didn't come to the UFC looking for easy fights. This is a great fight for me to get some momentum back and I'm very excited about it.

"I've kept in good shape since my last fight, I've been training, and I can't wait for March 26."

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