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UFC 120: Sex, Outlaws & John Hathaway

By: J. Alex Mattis

UFC 120 comes our way this Saturday night, free on SPIKE TV. After the questionable nature of UFC 119 it feels quite vindicating to be getting a full event for free.  The main card will feature four British natives in crucial fights for their respective careers. TUF 9 winner, James Wilks, is in desperate need of a win as another loss could be his last in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Dan Hardy needs a win over a top-tier name if he wants back up the title ladder. And coming off of a loss, Michael Bisping needs a win to stay at the top of the pack (Bisping maintains he won the Wanderlei fight, he just couldn’t get up to celebrate…). Also on the card, the totally awesome John Hathaway returns to action to further validate his hype and defeat MMA-vet Mike Pyle. LET’S GET DOWN TO IT!!!

The co-main event is the fight I am most looking forward to. Two of the most ferocious welterweights in the world go head-to-head in what guarantees to be a memorable fight. Honestly, we could be looking at “Fight of the Year.” Dan Hardy always tries to finish and it seems Carlos Condit is incapable of having a boring fight. When these two collide we’re guaranteed two things: one intense-ass staredown and an explosive fight.

“The Natural Born Killer” is riding a two-fight win-streak coming in to UFC 120. In his last UFC outing Carlos Condit finished the highly touted Rory MacDonald by rallying back after two close rounds and finishing the fight in the third, showing tremendous heart and resolve in the process. If the former WEC champion were to pick up a win over Dan Hardy he would immediately be propelled to the top of the heap.

Dan “The Outlaw” Hardy is coming off a spirited effort, but a loss, against the #1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, Georges St. Pierre. Hardy proved to be incredibly durable and to have tremendous heart, however he was controlled by the UFC champion and his hot-streak came to a halt. A win for Hardy is a must if he plans are getting that second title shot he oh’ so badly desires.

Neither man will be broken or give in. These are two of the most physically AND mentally tough fighters in all of MMA, as their last two respective fights demonstrated. What this fight is going to come down to is technique. I don’t see either of these two being finished; gameplan and execution is what is going to win this fight. The advantage now lay with Condit, who will have the strategy sage Greg Jackson in his corner.

Jackson will undoubtedly come up with a strategy that Solid Snake couldn’t even concoct, but I’m not sure it will be enough. Always the aggressor, Condit will come forward at Hardy and look to take the fight to the ground. Despite being thrown around by GSP, Dan Hardy still has very good takedown defense. In addition, Hardy has shown solid front and thrust kicks that are signature to him – the significance of that being Hardy keeping Condit out of takedown range if properly utilizing kicks. If Condit wants to come in and trade a window for Hardy to land his counter left-hook could open. Then again, Hardy may use the Mike Swick gameplan and keep coming forward forcing Condit to take chances.

Here’s the point – the style matchup and tone of this fight favors Dan Hardy. This will be a war that Condit could claim victory in, but I see “The Outlaw” having his hand raised and letting out a boisterous “OI OI!” on Saturday night. Expect Hardy to take the first two rounds, landing his shots and looking to finish. Condit will hunt to kill in the third but it won’t be enough.

Dan Hardy – Unanimous Decision

Random ramblings on the rest of the card:

-People are overlooking Akiyama after his loss to Leben.  If Michael Bisping is one of them, he will have a bad night on Saturday. Bisping has always been a consistent performer but this is a tough fight for him. Akiyama has great striking and, I believe, superior punching power to “The Count.” If at any point Akiyama wants to take it to the ground he will be able to. The ability and skill of Akiyama aided by his new camp and the gameplan guru himself, Greg Jackson will lead “Sexyama” to victory. Yoshihiro Akiyama – Unanimous Decision.

-If looking for an “Upset of the Night” look out for the monster known as Travis Browne. Dude’s 10-0 record with 8 (T)KO’s speaks for itself. His opponent, “Cup” Cheick Kongo, had a string of bad luck last year and didn’t look all too great against Paul Buentello. May turn out to be an awful, ricockulous pick to make but… Travis Browne – Round 1 TKO

-As previously mention, the TUF 9 welterweight winner James Wilks will be in action on Saturday night. It’s been an up and down road for the Brit’s UFC career thus far making this is a do-or-die fight. Unfortunately for Wilks his opponent looks to be one of the biggest prospects at 170. Claude Patrick is on an 11-fight win-streak and looked outstanding in his UFC debut. Patrick has well-rounded skills and one hell of a guillotine choke (50% of his career wins have been via the guillotine), which he displayed in his UFC 115 fight with Ricardo Funch. Wilks will put up a fight, but I see this one going to the Canadian.  Claude Patrick – Round 2 Submission

-Finally, expect the sky-rocketing journey of John Hathaway to continue breaking sound barriers and crashing through any obstructions that gets in its way. I was so incredibly excited when Hathaway-Stun Gun was announced, and equally as bummed when it was called off, but still… Johnny Hathaway!!! I remained pumped. I have been one of Hathaway’s biggest, and loudest, supporters since witnessing his decimation of Tom Egan at UFC 93. I predicted him to defeat Diego Sanchez, which I was laughed at for doing, and made sure to let all Sanchez fans know how I felt following the fight. Anyway… Hathaway’s opponent, Mike Pyle, is as tough and crafty as they come. That being said, I don’t see how he could win this fight. Pyle has a great submission game and very improved striking but with Hathaway’s solid takedown defense and propensity to stay far away from trouble, I don’t Pyle pulling the upset. Unless Johnny gets careless and throws himself in harm’s way, he is going to win. Expect the reach and patience of Hathaway to be the difference maker. John Hathaway – Unanimous Decision.

Top-to-bottom this is an awesome free card! I’ll be back next week with my thoughts on the event and a full preview of UFC 121: The Hunt For Red Brocktober.

Until then, take care and enjoy the fights!

-Alex

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