The second edition of my ‘Fights That Made Me a Fan’ blogs features for vastly different reasons than the first. Dan Hardy vs Duane Ludwig did not headline the event it featured on, it wasn’t even featured on the pay-per-view portion of the card, but it resonated with me for the human aspect of the competitors involved.
Another of my early favourites as I scoured the internet for UFC content was Dan “The Outlaw” Hardy. Hailing from Nottingham, the dyed-mohawk sporting welterweight had impressed during his early spell, amassing four consecutive victories and earning a title shot with his aggressive striking style and knockout power.
In his title fight Hardy fought valiantly, surviving a plethora of offence whilst refusing to submit, but ultimately fell to a unanimous decision defeat. Hardy then suffered three further defeats, all against top opposition but doubts over his future with the UFC were emerging.
For those who aren’t fans of MMA, it’s probably worth making the distinction between MMA (sport) and UFC (organisation). The UFC has often been accused of monopolising the sport of MMA to such an extent that the name UFC has actually become synonymous of the sport often erroneously referred to as Cage Fighting. As a result of the UFC’s dominance of the sport of MMA, scarce few other promotions are able to compensate fighters to a comparative degree.
As Hardy entered the fight with Ludwig, he was riding a four fight losing streak and although was retained for his exciting style, a further defeat would surely have spelled his release.
In no other sport can the phrase “fighting for your job” be understood so literally.
The task at hand was made no easier by his opponents pedigree. Ludwig had been a K-1 Kickboxing world champion, and while striking was also Hardy’s forte, the general consensus appeared to be favouring Ludwig.
On the night of May 26th, 2012 Hardy stood entered the Octagon with 15 minutes in which to save his career.
Hardy engaged from the outset but Ludwig’s technical-striking proficiency was evident. Commentator Joe Rogan questioned Hardy’s path to victory given that it appeared Ludwig had the advantage in what was the preferred method of engagement for both men.
If a determiner was to be found between the two fighters it would prove to be the psychological strength of Hardy. After surviving early exchanges, Hardy remained persistent, eventually dropping Ludwig with his patented lead-left hook.
The elation was evident as the Englishman jumped in celebration but the job was not yet done. Ludwig tried desperately to survive but the damage was evident. Hardy followed up with elbows before the referee stopped the contest.
With the win, and his career secured, Hardy had delivered when he needed to the most, and in doing so cemented me as a fan for life.