Everyone expecting Anthony Johnson and Dan Hardy to put on a striking clinic were sorely disappointed at UFC Fight Night 24, with Johnson instead exposing the continued weaknesses in the UK fighter’s ground game.
The first big action of the fight came early as Johnson stalked Hardy and then landed a big head kick that floored the Brit.
Hardy still had his bearings though and was able to intelligently defend himself as Johnson waded into his guard and landed ground and pound.
From their the rest of the round was a display of Johnson’s rarely seen wrestling skills as he controlled Hardy, who, to his credit was trying to stay offensive from his back and was working for a kimura as the round came to a close.
Seeing that his wrestling was paying dividends, Johnson secured a takedown early in round two and went to work with more ground and pound over the five minutes that followed. Outweighed and outmatched in the grappling, Hardy could do little to turn the tide and a lone kimura attempt was his only offensive output.
On to the final round and Hardy tries to mix things up by going for a takedown of his own, but Johnson shrugs it off and puts him on the mat instead.
The crowd don’t like it, but Johnson is in complete control here. To his credit Hardy did manage to get back to his feet eventually, only to find himself dumped back down again quickly.
This time Johnson goes for his back and after failing to get a rear naked choke he swoops for an arm triangle. It looks tight, but Hardy displays some of the submission resistance he showed against GSP to survive. Then Johnson goes for a neck crank but Hardy resists and ‘Rumble’ is too tired to make it work and opts for hammer-fists instead as the round ends.
This was a very one-sided fight, and while not the most exciting display we’ve ever seen from him, it’s an important one for Johnson after over a year out due to a knee injury.
As for Hardy, he’s now on a three fight losing streak, and after being dominated by GSP on the ground, he’ll be disappointed not to have been able to show any noticable improvements in his wrestling and takedown defense on this occasion.