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 411mania » MMA » Columns

The Blueprint 9.27.12: Home Sweet Homecoming
Posted by Patrick Mullin on 09.27.2012

Hello once again architects. Thank you for joining us for another edition of The Blueprint. This week we're back to doing what we do best, we're breaking down a fight. The UFC will make its Nottingham, England debut and native son Dan Hardy is featured. After suffering through the worst run of his career taking four losses in four consecutive fights Hardy finally got on the winning track by knocking out Duane Ludwig. Hardy seemed reinvigorated in that outing and it was as though he had a new lease on his fighting career. It has to be a good feeling to knock out the owner of the fastest KO in UFC history who also happens to be a kickboxing specialist.

Amir Sadollah burst onto the scene by winning The Ultimate Fighter Season 7 without ever having had a professional fight. However at present time Amir hasn't been able to string together more than two consecutive victories in his UFC career. Victories over Brad Blackburn, Phil Baroni, and Damarques Johnson are mixed in with losses to Duane Ludwig, Johny Hendricks, and Stun Gun Kim. Sadollah is coming off of a disputed decision victory over Jorge Lopez and many people have soured on the one time highly touted prospect. Sadollah much like his opponent is in need of a victory to make a statement towards relevancy in the UFC welterweight division.

When you have two guys who so desperately need to win a fight it often leads to each guy leaving their best in the octagon. The problem for our competitors is that only one man can win and its tough to justify the loser sticking around in the UFC. That's why we're here in The Blueprint. We'll start our look with TUF 7 winner Amir Sadollah.

Amir Sadollah
: 5'11
Reach: 75 inches
Record: 6 Wins(2 Submission, 4 Decision) 3 Losses(1 KO, 2 Decision)
Strengths: Leg Kicks, Thai Clinch, Submissions from the Guard
Weaknesses: Takedown Defense, Questionable Chin, Tendency to Trade

Amir Sadollah's Keys to Victory

1) Leg Kicks
- Sadollah's best offensive weapon are his quick and accurate leg kicks. Amir is the current record holder for landing the most leg kicks in a 15 minute bout with 46. Hardy's hands are his best weapon and since Sadollah is going to have to stand up with him he should try to use kicks to neutralize having to box with Hardy. Sadollah needs to find a way to maximize what he can do offensively and it all starts with his leg kicks. Landing them early and often will help Sadollah do several things to up his chances of winning the fight.

Firstly Amir will be scoring points by actively landing strikes. Secondly Amir will set up offense to Hardy's chin by making him drop his guard. While once vaunted, Hardy's chin has become a subject of ridicule after his KO loss to Carlos Condit and being rocked often by feather fisted Chris Lytle. Thirdly Amir will also force Hardy into being more stationary by beating up his legs. This will allow Sadollah a better chance at taking the fight to the ground where he is absolutely at an advantage.

2) Get him to the Ground - Building off of key number one we have a crucial part of what can win this fight for Amir Sadollah. He needs to eliminate Hardy's vertical base and turn this into a grappling fight. Ever since the Georges St. Pierre fight we've heard how Hardy's ground game has improved. He's trained with the likes of Matt Serra and Roy Nelson amongst others. The fact however is that Hardy is still a neophyte when it comes to grappling and is not likely to win a fight involving it.

Sadollah for all his faults has shown some good ability to finish fights on the ground. His UFC debut saw him armbar wrestler CB Dollaway and he also elbowed DeMarques Johnson into submission in one of his more recent outings. Hardy may be able to avoid the submission attempts if brought to the ground, but he won't be winning the fight. He'll largely be on the defensive and fighting to survive rather than to win. You can't knock someone out when they're on top of you in the mount.

3) AVOID Brawling - If there's something you can single out in Amir Sadollah's losses that has lead to his demise its his tendency to get into exchanges and brawls with guys who outgun him. He stood up with the dangerously powerful Johny Hendricks and was knocked out. He tried to get into a kickboxing match with Duane Ludwig who just had too much for him on the feet. Even when he beat Phil Baroni he was beaten quite clearly in the stand up battle in the first round and was the beneficiary of an all too common Baroni gas out.

Mental errors are the most common cause of why fighters lose. Sadollah is a typical victim of being headstrong and not doing what is necessarily best for him. He trades with guys who have big power or superior technique and loses. He's up against that very opponent in this fight and thus he needs to be smart for once and avoid playing to Hardy's strengths. If he brawls he's likely to get knocked out. If he wants to win he has to avoid these amateur mistakes.

Amir Sadollah's Perfect Strategy - From the outset Amir has to try to chop Hardy down with leg kicks. Those kicks can set up high kick opportunities and slow Hardy down while making him play the guessing game as to when Amir is going to try for the takedown. Someone trying to anticipate your takedown becomes less of an offensive threat so even if Amir can't shoot effectively he limits what is coming back at him. He can eventually put Hardy on his back or simply work leg kicks to keep Hardy from getting inside with his left hook and outpoint him.

Dan "The Outlaw" Hardy
: 6'0
Reach: 74 inches
Record: 24 Wins(15 KO, 1 Submission, 8 Decision) 10 Losses(1 KO, 4 Submission, 4 Decision, 1 Disqualification)
Strengths: KO Power, Combination Punching, Stiff Jab
Weaknesses: Grappling, Takedown Defense, Questionable Chin, Strike Defense

Dan Hardy's Keys to Victory

1) Get off First
- In his fight with Duane Ludwig we saw Hardy get back to doing things that won him fights. Hardy does very well when he leads off with a strong left jab and can follow effectively with either the traditional right cross or the left hook. Hardy up on his toes dictating the action is a confident fighter who can keep opponents honest and on the defensive because of the threat he is standing up. His left jab allows him to properly gauge distance and is arguably his best defensive weapon.

The jab is also a very good counter for leg kicks which will undoubtedly come from Sadollah. The best counter to a leg kick is a quick step toward the opponent behind a stiff jab. They're off balance because all of the weight is displaced on one leg and the punch is traveling the shorter distance because its going straight as opposed to having to travel roundhouse the way a kick does.

2) Punch in Combination - Hardy has scored some terrific one punch KO's in his UFC run over Duane Ludwig and Rory Markham. However you always want to have the next bullet ready to fly out of the chamber to be safe. When you're trying to rely on one punch to end everything, which Hardy has done in the past, its not usually likely to happen. Combination punching is like buying insurance. If one doesn't work out there is more to follow.

Johny Hendricks showed how effective this can be against Sadollah. In their face off at UFC 104 Sadollah initiated with a head kick. Hendricks blocked it and countered with a big uppercut that put Amir down. Rather than expect things to be over or admire his work, Hendricks followed up with a plethora of punches. The result was a defenseless Sadollah being saved by referee Dan Mirgliotta and suffering his first defeat. A power puncher like Hardy could do this to Amir once again if given the opportunity.

3) Stay Mobile - Hardy's biggest weakness is that he is unable to fight effectively against well schooled grapplers. He becomes easy takedown prey when he loses the bounce in his step and stands flat footed trying to load up on power strikes that generally miss the mark. Hardy head hunts and thus when he loads up and stands straight in front of the opponent he wings wild shots at the head that are easy to get under and get double underhooks to put Dan on his back. This is the opposite of the effective Hardy who was able to beat Duane Ludwig and Mike Swick amongst others. So long as Dan can keep his feet going and move after he strikes he should do well.

Dan Hardy's Perfect Strategy - Hardy should take the center of the octagon on his toes and aggressively force Sadollah to backpedal to get away from his jab. Based on Amir's movement Hardy will know what to follow up with in order to land a power shot. With Sadollah against the fence he'll become easy prey for power shots in combination and Hardy can likely finish him or win a lopsided decision.

Final Prediction - This fight simply comes down to whether or not Amir Sadollah can take Dan Hardy down. If he had a better wrestling base and could consistently take down lesser opposition the way he was supposed to I think it would be an easy call to make. However he has been wildly inconsistent and shown less talent in certain areas than he was thought to possess. He is not truly a danger to knock someone out while standing up and because of his lackluster takedowns it's an uphill battle for him. Hardy has the fight starting on the feet, exactly where he wants it, against an opponent who makes several mental errors likely to benefit him greatly.

And the Winner Is… - Dan Hardy, Knockout, Round Three


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