Hardy lives up to "Outlaw" moniker once again
Dan Hardy came into Sunday's fight with a pretty good idea of the stakes. Lose and be cut. Win and stick around. Win via knockout and make history against Chris Lytle, who never gets knocked out -- especially in swan song fights. There was a lot going on for a modest main event. Yet, the "Outlaw" turned the trick of living up to his original persona in the end -- he fought valiantly and lost defiantly.
Hardy stood in the pocket and absorbed combinations from the gut to the thorax to the chin. He ate jabs, looping rights and uppercuts. He timed out his fair share of retaliatory fire, too. He countered; he initiated. The heads were whipping, and each man was intimately familiar with the other's wheelhouse. In other words, he and Lytle lived up to billing. Then, for the second time in the fight, he shot for a takedown -- a rickety shot, and a declaratory shot -- and in the process hung his head. He was choked and forced to tap.
The tapping? That was the hard swallow, something Hardy swore he'd never do. Remember Georges St. Pierre's pack of Kimuras?
It was a cruel set of sequences for Hardy, a golden sayonara for Lytle. Yet it ended up being at bittersweet moment for Hardy, too. Before the suspense of his release could get started, he was assured his roster spot was safe by Lorenzo Fertitta via Twitter. He'll take some time off, but Hardy's next fight will be in the UFC. This goes against all odds for a traditional anti-wrestler who would rather stand and trade and leave somebody definitively whooped. But, hey, the "Outlaw" has made a career on this kind of defiance.
Five new storylines
Five new questions
Q: Where does Sunday's win put Ben Henderson?
A: Ben Henderson did more than throw his sombrero toward the short list of contenders; he whipped a guy in Jim Miller who isn't accustomed to that sort of treatment. For three rounds. Dynamically. So where does this get Bendo in the deep 155-pound scheme of things? Closer, but not quite next for a title shot. He should have to beat either Clay Guida (four straight wins and available) or Melvin Guillard (fighting Oct. 8 against Joe Lauzon) to get a crack at the belt.
Q: What's next for Jim Miller?
A: That's a tough paddle to the penultimate spot in the UFC's most competitive division, then to leave his bid at the altar of Bendo. Now Miller is forced to start paddling again. Who is next for him? Maybe Anthony Pettis, whose path to the title took a similar veering trajectory when he lost a "stay-busy" fight with Guida.
Q: Is Cowboy Cerrone top-10 material?
A: It's getting to the point Cerrone's performances come with a guarantee of detonation. If you saw how good Charles Oliveira looked against Nik Lentz, you know for Cerrone to plow through him is no joke. He has two Achilles' heels -- Henderson and fighting for the belt. If he keeps winning, re-encounters with these sorts of things could become inevitable.
Q: Is bantamweight a fighter purgatory for Joseph Benavidez?
A: His win against Eddie Wineland was impressive and established Benavidez as the division's asterisked No. 1 contender. The problem is Joe B-Wan Kenobi has already fought (and lost to) champ Dominick Cruz twice. So what to do? Where to go? Well, maybe a potboiler fight before the UFC introduces the flyweight division in early 2012. He and Ian McCall would leave scorch marks across the cage.
Q: Did we vastly overestimate Dan Hardy?
A: It's easy to pile on when a guy drops his fourth fight in a row, but Hardy earned his title shot against Georges St. Pierre last year. In retrospect, it was a mismatch of leviathan proportions, given GSP's wrestling and Hardy's lack thereof, but the UFC is never opposed to highly visible, well-spoken and completely unflinching fighters. Now it's left to Hardy to catch up his game to his soaring cult status among fans (many of which are fighters and Zuffa higher-ups).
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Lytle On Life After MMA
UFC Live 5 By The Numbers
Lytle-Hardy By The Numbers
|Sig. Strikes||127 of 271||61 of 238|
|Total Str.||134 of 278||63 of 240|
|Takedowns||0 of 0||1 of 2|
Henderson-Miller By The Numbers
|Sig. Strikes||65 of 132||14 of 44|
|Total Str.||119 of 195||24 of 55|
|Takedowns||7 of 7||0 of 0|
Cerrone-Oliveira By The Numbers
|Sig. Strikes||30 of 60||10 of 29|
|Total Str.||32 of 63||10 of 29|
|Takedowns||0 of 0||0 of 0|
Bendo Handles His Business
"I had a minor hiccup. [Actually], not a minor hiccup, I had a highlight reel against my face. That was a little bit more than a minor hiccup, but I got over that and every fight since then has been a bigger stage with more on the line. This was the biggest fight of my career so far and I think I did a good job."-- Henderson, on bouncing back from a loss to Anthony Pettis
"I had a long talk with myself in the mirror before I came out like, 'Man. I don't care if you get knocked out. Let 'em go." This fight was about me and I'm happy with it." -- Donald Cerrone, on his one-sided assault of Charles Oliveira
"I think I had the quickest rise and quickest fall the UFC has ever seen. Four fights up and four fights down. There are improvements I need to make. & I think I need to dedicate the time to it and either come back in a blaze of glory and on a road to the belt or do something else. I'm not sure yet. There are things I want to do outside of the sport. I'll see where my life takes me after a couple days. " -- Dan Hardy, on where he's been and where he's going as a professional fighter
"I was expecting a fight like that. Knock-down, drag-out, three-round fight. That's why I was so excited for the fight. He's one of the toughest guys I've been in there with. I landed a lot of good punches in there and it didn't seem to faze him at all. I was really impressed with him. I wish nothing but good things for him. You put him in there with the right people he's going to put on some of the best fights you guys are going to see." -- Chris Lytle, on being honored to fight Hardy