Number one welterweight contender, Dan “The Outlaw” Hardy, has proclaimed in recent interviews, that he has current welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre’s number come March 27th at UFC 111 when the two meet in the octagon for the prized title.
The Nottingham native believes that the champ’s Achilles Heel is his mental weakness, which was exposed when the French-Canadian lost to Matt Serra and Matt Hughes.
“That [Serra fight] is something that is going to be at the back of his mind. He knows that all his fame and glory can be taken away from him if he is not careful. He is a good wrestler and he is sticking to what he is good at, which is taking people down.
I don’t think his striking is particularly brilliant. He is a great fighter, don’t get me wrong, but he is a great well-rounded fighter. In a kickboxing match I would be able to play with him, pretty much,” Hardy said in a recent TapouT radio interview.
St-Pierre lost his first title defense against Matt Serra at UFC 69 back in 2007. Serra shocked the world by knocking down St-Pierre with strikes, ending the fight by technical knockout in the first round. Ironically, Serra lost his first and only title defense, in a convincing manner; against the man he won the belt from—Georges St-Pierre.
Since regaining the welterweight belt in his hometown of Montreal at UFC 83, St-Pierre has been on a tear—using his dominant wrestling ability to run through challengers.
In Hardy’s opinion, having unstoppable takedowns allows the champion’s striking to be even more effective; just ask his last three world-class opponents: Jon Fitch, BJ Penn, and Thiago Silva. All of which got taking down at will when St-Pierre switched levels away from his stand-up.
It is an observation that has not gone unnoticed in Hardy’s eyes—a dichotomy he plans on taking full advantage of during their fight.
“The thing that makes him effective with his striking is his ability to take people down. Because people are scared of the takedown, they are not putting fists on him, which is how he is winning his fights. Serra went in there with a different frame of mind, ‘Let’s put some fists on him’, and we all saw what happened,” the 27-year old mused during the same radio interview with TapouT.
To help nullify St-Pierre’s striking and takedowns, Hardy has made a few changes in his training camp to maintain momentum from the Swick fight and to fortify his wrestling abilities. The Brit explained the recent tweaks to Nottingham website, thisisitnottingham.co.uk.
“I’ve been training hard down at Liberty’s with a new coach, Steve Papp, from Nottingham. I have always enjoyed watching his fighters compete, winning British titles on a regular basis,” Hardy discussed.
“I brought him in before the Swick fight to shake things up a bit. The sessions are tough but I can see myself improving. I’m also improving my wrestling technique with a GB Olympic team member. It’s something different I have added to this camp to better prepare for the wrestling I expect I will have to do if I want to keep the fight on the feet,” added Hardy.
Keeping a wrestling extraordinaire like St-Pierre—who in recent months discussed the possibility of joining the Canadian wrestling team—on his feet is a high order.
Hardy is realistically approaching the fact with a sense of confidence in his punching power, which has been improved during his strength training. Hardy explained that St-Pierre’s excellent wrestling, not only wins him fights, but also makes him somewhat predictable.
While the Brit expects to be taken down by numerous shots, he wants to remind the world that it only takes one of his solid punches to connect with St-Pierre’s chin to become the first British UFC champion.
“It’s no surprise is that he will want to try and take me down and I will want to knock him out,” Hardy confidently expressed. “I think the difference between me and other people who have been fighting him is that they have been conscious of the takedown. I am the kind of guy who will just swing at him with a grin on my face and if I end up on the floor I will worry about that when I get there.”
Even thought the betting-lines for UFC 111 have not officially been released, everyone and their die-hard Olympic Ice Dancing friends know “The Outlaw” will undoubtedly be the underdog.
It is an undeniable fact that Hardy nonchalantly takes on the chin. He told the Nottingham website, This Is It, that he couldn’t be bothered by not being the favorite.
“I’m the underdog, no doubt about that. But I don’t care. I’m in a great position because I’ve got nothing to lose. If anyone will be feeling the pressure, it will be him. People expect him to win, so if he loses, it will be a huge shock.”