If you were listening to the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 24 between welterweights Anthony Johnson and Dan Hardy, you would have heard boos galore being showered upon the competitors. The Seattle fight fans were quick to show their displeasure of anyone who took their opponent down last night and no one incurred their wrath like Anthony Johnson.
This was not Johnson's fault, however. In this world where everyone wants immediate answers when things go wrong, all eyes should be on former title challenger Dan "The Outlaw" Hardy.
With all the talk of this fight being a guaranteed stand up war, analysts seemed to forget that Anthony Johnson was a former junior college national champion wrestler. Dan Hardy seemed fixated on the fact that Johnson would stand and bang with him and that ended up being his ultimate downfall.
After a brief striking exchange, Johnson leveled Hardy with a big left high kick reminiscent of his finish against Kevin Burns but Hardy was not out yet. Instead, Johnson chased him to the ground where he discovered just how completely destitute the Brit was on the ground.
For the next two and a half rounds, Johnson would take Hardy down at will and throw mild ground and pound. There appeared to be nothing "The Outlaw" could do about it.
Hardy's only defense was a kimura lock that Johnson shrugged off rather easily but he was not denied. Hardy followed the mantra of "If at first you don't succeed, try it 15 more times" and repeatedly attempted the kimura sweep every time Johnson took him down. Johnson, who is one of the largest and strongest welterweights, didn't appear fazed by Hardy's failed undertakings, almost ignoring them like they were a pesky insect.
UK fighters have had to fight the stigma that they are horrible wrestlers but Dan Hardy seems to have embraced it. He even went as far as to mock wrestling in the pre-fight buildup of his UFC 111 title fight against Georges St. Pierre. You would think that after being on the receiving end of a five round rasslin' clinic courtesy of GSP he would have at least tried to incorporate some of the grappling game into his skillset. Instead, Hardy chose to angrily shake his fist and complain about wrestlers rather than rectify his own deficiencies.
Once Johnson discovered how easily he could bring"The Outlaw" to the floor, he went to work. Johnson was successful on 4 of 5 takedown attempts. Hardy only rose when the referee stood both men up but it wasn't long before he was on his back again. A desperate Hardy even attempted an ill-advised takedown of his own to start the third round but Johnson easily stuffed it and reversed him. Until he fixes his wrestling problems, he should consider changing his nickname to "The Turtle" because both are equally helpless off their backs.
Some may be angry about Johnson's change in gameplan, but think about it from his perspective. This was Johnson's first fight in 16 months and he was just over a year removed from a nasty knee injury. He was also coming off a high profile loss to Josh Koscheck in the co-main event of UFC 106. Johnson needed the win more than he needed another highlight reel stoppage.
Honestly, with both fighters relatively even in striking skills, wouldn't you take the easy victory via wrestling if it was handed to you on a silver platter? Hardy has no one to blame but himself.