Thursday, November 12, 2009
Though many are looking at this fight simply as a match-up to decide who will become the next victim of Georges St-Pierre, looking beyond this fight will cause you to miss some fireworks.
Regardless of where you stand on whether either of these fighters have rightfully earned the right to be one step away from a title shot opposite the best welterweight in the world, both Dan Hardy and Mike Swick will undoubtedly come out firing and chances are that one of them will connect... early.
Dan Hardy (22-6-0, 1 NC) vs. Mike Swick (14-2-0)
While Hardy comes from one of the best camps in Britain, the emerging Team Rough House that houses fellow UFC 105 competitors Andre Winner and Nick Osipczak, as well as top British prospect Jim Wallhead, Swick trains with one of the best camps in the business period, the San Jose-based American Kickboxing Academy.
Unlike the four other match-ups that make up the UFC 105 main card, these two offer an opportunity to look at a shared opponent, as both have spent 15 minutes inside the cage with "The Irish Hand Grenade" Marcus Davis.
Swick met the Boston-based former boxer at UFC 85 and came away with a Unanimous Decision win, while Hardy enters this #1 contender test off a split decision win over Davis just five months ago in Germany.
Once again, it's advantage Swick, though this one is closer than the first comparison.
In terms of overall strength of competition and experience levels, Swick again shows an edge, but not by as much as you might think.
While his opponents are more household names, the truth is that neither of these fighters have a laundry list of big name wins on their resumes. Though he's been a part of the UFC since the original season of The Ultimate Fighter, Swick's strongest win to date remains unclear.
Is it his win over an out-of-shape and overconfident Joe Riggs?
His defeat of David Loiseau, a fighter who has been released and re-signed by the UFC on multiple occasions?
The aforementioned win over Marcus Davis or solid performances against mid-level guys like Jonathan Goulet and Ben Saunders?
While defeating Davis is clearly the biggest win of Hardy's UFC career, both that win and his victory over Akihiro Gono came via split decision, leaving just his knockout of Rory Markham as the only win without someone asking questions.
So while Swick earns an edge for taking down more well-known names than Hardy has to date, the two biggest names on his list of opponents are his two career defeats, one to Yushin Okami and the other to Chris Leben, both at middleweight.
Stylistically is where this fight proves most interesting, as hands will be flying fast and furious like a bad Vin Diesel movie.
Though Swick earned his nickname "Quick" for the speed of his hands, an attribute he's displayed on multiple occasion during his UFC career, Hardy has some hands of his own. Just ask Rory Markham...
The most interesting wrinkle in the whole fight might be the additionally intangibles each fighter brings to the cage.
Hardy is a notorious trash talker and this fight is no different, as he presented Swick with a runner-up trophy at Wednesday's Press Conference. Though some see his actions as childish and unnecessary, the back-and-forth between Hardy and Marcus Davis certainly took the American off his game heading into their bout at UFC 99.
On top of his infamous mouth, Hardy brings an often unmentioned tae kwon do background and solid jiu jitsu game into the cage. So far, he hasn't displayed those skill sets in his three fights with the UFC, but that certainly doesn't mean they don't exist.
As for Swick, his former life as a top-ranked middleweight could certainly play a part in the outcome. After competing on TUF 1 at Light Heavyweight, Swick went 5-1 at 185 before starting his unbeaten run at 170 back in January 2008.
While the two are comparable in height, Swick could certainly be the bigger of the two come fight night. something he could use to his advantage up against the cage if need be.
Most likely, that won't be necessary. This one probably won't last very long.
Both will come out blazing and whoever lands the first flush shot will have their hand raised.
Then they get to meet GSP and take their first welterweight loss in the UFC.