• UFC Fight Night 24

Hardy's weakness rumbled by Johnson

ESPN staff
March 26, 2011
Anthony Johnson dropped Dan Hardy with the very first blow of the contest at UFC Fight Night 24 © Getty Images

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Dan Hardy is now in the midst of the longest losing streak in his entire MMA career after he was overwhelmed by Anthony Johnson at UFC Fight Night 24 on Saturday.

Hardy has now gone three fights without a win, and if Georges St-Pierre laid the blueprint for how to use takedowns to nullify the Briton, Johnson followed it to the letter for a unanimous decision victory. The American displayed far superior wrestling to Hardy, who - like the St-Pierre fight - had to show unbelievable heart to survive multiple submission attempts.

Johnson had gone into the bout after a 16-month injury-enforced absence, but he showed no ring rust, dropping Hardy with a huge head kick - the first significant strike of the bout. The Brit did well to buy himself time, but it allowed Johnson to discover the ease at which he could control his foe on the mat, delivering some serious ground and pound as the first stanza came to a climax.

Now it was time for Johnson to exploit Hardy's weakness, slipping his first punch of the second to spend all five minutes on top. Hardy searched for a kimura, but it was never there. The third round proved even worse for Hardy as his own attempted takedown saw him end up on his back, where Johnson went big with arm triangle and neck crank attempts, failing to become the first man to submit Hardy in the UFC but succeeding with a dominant decision victory.

Hardy's fellow Briton John Hathaway returned to winning ways earlier in the night, taking a controversial split decision against Kris McCray. Hathaway almost locked on an early toe-hook submission but spent most of the first two rounds fighting back to his feet after takedowns from McCray. The most dominant round was registered by Hathaway as McCray tired in the third, and it proved enough to tip the judges as the Briton claimed his fifth UFC victory.

In the night's main event, Phil Davis worked out the biggest conundrum of his career in order to beat Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in the light-heavyweight division. The undefeated 26-year-old wrestler could not revert to his A-game until the second half of Saturday's 15-minute chess match, but he showed he can adapt tactics to grind out a unanimous 30-27 victory.

Phil Davis eventually got Antonio Rogerio Nogueira to the mat © Getty Images

Prior to Saturday's clash, Davis had been handed the unwanted burden of being named among an exclusive group of fighters who might be able to trouble new champion Jon Jones. Blessed with amazing athleticism and fierce wrestling, Davis had even been compared directly to Jones.

However, Mr Wonderful found himself facing a huge challenge in the shape of Nogueira in Seattle, and it required a major tactical change to pull out his ninth career victory. Nogueira spent eight minutes stuffing Davis' double-leg takedown attempts with consummate ease, but once the American switched to the single-leg he found the key to win the fight.

"I want to thank God because I was falling apart in this training camp, I had all types of injuries," said Davis. "Nogueira's tough, he's resilient, I couldn't take him down with anything that I saw somebody succeeding with against him in the past."

The first round saw Davis attempt to set up takedowns with head kicks, but too often he was sent packing by Nogueira's razor-sharp hands. On two occasions the Brazilian rocked Davis, but things changed the moment Davis realised a single-leg could unbalance his rival. From there he went to work with his ground and pound, landing some serious knees to the midsection, riding out the most significant win of his career.

Leonard Garcia will likely take a huge dose of regret away from Seattle after his more tactical approach failed in the hugely anticipated rematch with the Korean Zombie Chan Sung Jung. The pair won the 2010 Fight of the Year award after an absolute bar-room brawl, but this time the Zombie claimed revenge for the controversial decision that went against him in that fight, winning via twister submission with one second remaining in round two.

It was the first time a twister had ever ended a bout in the UFC, and it forced Garcia to tap even though he only needed to survive one more second. Trapping one leg Jung took control of Garcia's head, pulling in a different direction in order to contort his spine and win the fight in incredible fashion. "I've been watching Eddie Bravo for a long time, practising a lot on team-mates in training, and hopefully I'll get the Submission of the Night with that one," said Jung, who's request was answered.

Garcia, who windmilled his way through the first clash, arrived in the rematch with plenty more technique, hands raised, throwing combinations and reacting to Greg Jackson's calls to pop the jab. However, he never really let any trademark Garcia haymakers fly, something he will likely regret until the pair one day complete their trilogy.

In the night's other main card fight, Amir Sadollah turned on the style to force the submission of DaMarques Johnson via elbows at 3.27 in round two. Johnson, who took the fight on two weeks' notice, tired considerably and had no escape when Sadollah trapped his head with his own arm, raining down elbows for the victory in the welterweight division.

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