UFC 108 will likely go down as the most cursed fight card of 2010 and, quite possibly, the most cursed fight card in UFC history. The card was absolutely riddled with injuries and saw high profile fights between Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort, Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Cain Velasquez all scrapped for some medical reason or another. When Carlos Condit dropped out of his welterweight bout with British bomber Paul Daley, it seemed that another potentially exciting matchup was headed out the window.
That is until Dustin Hazelett, who had just been denied a UFC 106 matchup with Karo Parisyan due to the Armenian’s last minute withdrawal from the bout, stepped up and agreed to take Daley on.
“My mind said it was a bad idea, but my heart said, ‘Take the fight,'” Hazelett said in an interview with MMAJunkie. “Any time you listen to your heart, that’s what you’re supposed to do regardless of how it turns out.”
Despite Daley missing weight by two pounds, the two welterweights took the co-main event slot under Rashad Evans’ and Thiago Silva’s main event scrap.
In the opening seconds of the bout Hazelett threw a wild front flip-heel kick that Daley easily dodged but still served as evidence of the Kentucky native’s confidence. Hazelett kept Daley on the outside with push kicks early on but as soon as the fight was shaping up to be a competitive one, the two men traded left hooks; Hazelett’s touched Daley but Daley’s immediately crumpled Hazelett. A few extra shots from “Semtex” ensured that Hazelett was separated from consciousness.
More than just leave Hazelett sleeping on the canvas, Daley ensured that “McLovin'” wouldn’t see action again until at least July 2nd of this year by fracturing his nose and orbital. Their fight took place on January 2nd, but Hazelett insists that the mandatory time off is a blessing.
“I learned a little bit of a lesson about rushing into things,” Hazelett told MMAjunkie. “I want to take my time with it, and work on some holes in my game. I’m not as worried about who I’m fighting next or when I’m fighting next as I am with fixing the holes in my game.”
Many have questioned Hazelett’s strategy to stand with the welterweight wrecking machine. Hazelett says that striking wasn’t the strategy, he just didn’t take Daley down fast enough.
“The gameplan was to take him down as soon as possible,” explained Hazelett. “But I didn’t want to rush it too much. I wanted to get him to leap in so I could time it properly. I knew that if I just shot out of the blue, where he’s so explosive and quick, he would get out of the way. The gameplan was definitely not to stand with him. But I just didn’t get around to it quick enough.”
Even though he is cleared to fight in July, Hazelett is making no plans for a return yet, insisting that he is “just kind of taking it slow” and fixing the holes in his game.
Meanwhile, the welterweight title picture has become somewhat bleak. Outside of Daley (who will fight Josh Koscheck on May 8th to presumably determine who is next for welterweight ruler Georges St. Pierre) and possibly AKA assassin Paulo Thiago, the division is running short of title contenders that haven’t already had their shot at St. Pierre’s crown.
Hopefully, with the plentiful rest Hazelett has taken and the technical training that he is undergoing, “McLovin'” can return to competition renewed and ready to make waves in the quickly stagnating welterweight division.