Marcus Davis and Dan Hardy have been trading verbal jabs since before this fight was signed. Saturday, they'll finally get to hit each other with something more than vicious rhetoric and photoshop'ed pictures.
Their dislike for each other stems from Hardy's disapproval of what he calls Davis' gimmick, playing to fans in the United Kingdom through his ancestry and nickname as "The Irish Hand Grenade."
Regardless of what caused the bad blood, it's at a boiling point and come Saturday, someone is going to get burned.
"The Irish Hand Grenade" Marcus Davis (21-5) versus Dan "The Outlaw" Hardy (21-6-1)
There are no common threads in opponents between the dueling factions, so we'll jump right into strength of competition. The edge has to go to Davis, simply because he's been fighting with the UFC for a longer stretch of time. He's put in more time in the cage against quality opponents than his British rival, having fought the likes of Mike Swick, Chris Lytle, Paul Kelly and Paul Taylor.
That being said, Davis has yet to prove himself against the upper echelon of fighters. In the one instance that he fought someone with reasonable title aspirations (Swick), he dropped a Unanimous Decision. Other than that, he's beat up on guys who clearly are mid-card filler and fighters from the UK that are put on the card to help sell the overseas events.
Hardy, on the other hand, has had just two fights with the UFC and came away with a pair of decent wins, first by decision over Akihiro Gono followed by knocking Pat Miletich trainee Rory Markham stiff.
Stylistically, both guys are going to want to stand and bang. While each surely has skills beyond their striking, they are both boxers by nature, Davis having competed professionally before turning to MMA, while Hardy has been gearing up for this fight under the guidance of Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach.
Each can say what they want about not looking to get into a boxing match, but you go with what you do best and for each, that is knocking people out. Should this fight go to the ground, the edge has to go to Davis, who has actually finished more opponents via submission than he has with his vaunted knockout ability.
No matter what side of the debate you land on or if you're playing Switzerland in this war of words, this fight has all the makings of a Fight of the Night candidate and at the very least will produce some fireworks and put an end to all this trash talk.
Let the best man win.