GSP Faces Toughest Test in Hardy
Preview by Brady Crytzer
UFC 111 features the sport’s premier athlete facing off with an unheralded challenger hungry for a shot. Since regaining his title in 2008, world welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre has reinvented the wheel of cardiovascular capability and prefight dedication racking up three impressive wins.
Facing three of the sport’s true terminators, St. Pierre ran through world class fighters Jon Fitch, BJ Penn, and Thiago Alves like a hot knife through butter. With little left to prove, the unlikely UK brawler Dan Hardy is next in line for a shot. As a one dimensional banger with only four UFC appearances to his credit, the rough necked Hardy represents everything GSP isn’t. Despite the fact that, on paper, Hardy could be his easiest fight in five years. In most sports this match up would be cut and dry, but not in MMA. Get ready, because “The Outlaw” from Nottingham, England is truly GSP’s biggest test to date.
The life of a reigning champion entails glamorous photo shoots, fat pay checks, and the adoration of fans across the globe, but at the end of the day its about one thing…rising to the occasion. In August of 2008 St. Pierre, fresh off of his destruction of Matt Serra to regain his title belt, met Jon Fitch in Minneapolis at UFC 87. Bringing eleven straight Octagon victories and a Purdue Boilermaker wrestling pedigree, Fitch was the most dangerous fight of his career. Over five brutal rounds, St. Pierre beat and battered his challenger, making a statement that he is the best in the world, and he defend his belt.
Flash forward to January of 2009. In a pound for pound showdown, St. Pierre dismantled UFC lightweight champion BJ Penn en route to a fourth round TKO victory. It was billed as the biggest fight in MMA history; in reality it wasn’t even competitive. Duty called yet again, and St. Pierre answered.
In his latest UFC appearance GSP battled Thiago Alves, a young, strong, super athlete with deadly power in both hands and a knock for ending fights in a heartbeat. As the co-feature of UFC 100, quite literally the biggest night in UFC history, St. Pierre once again rose to the occasion by outclassing and embarrassing the Brazilian wrecking machine en route to his third straight title defense.
Champions must rise to the occasion, and when the world is unsure, they must be the beacon of reassurance. Fans knew the danger of fighting Fitch, Penn, and Alves, and they knew that it would require the best GSP to defeat them. But what if a victory only required a mediocre performance?
Enter Dan “The Outlaw” Hardy.
Hardy has made a name for himself through the creative PR that surrounds world class trash talk. He debuted off-air against Akihiro Gono in 2008 winning a split decision. However in his first UFC televised fight he used a blistering counter hook to KO former IFL standout Rory Markham in the first round. Since then, his rise has been meteoric. Working his way to co-main event status by berating his opponents during prefight hype, the brash Hardy went on to claim two more victories over Marcus Davis and Mike Swick.
This is a familiar scene for GSP. A clear world beater with a bright future, St. Pierre defeated Frank Trigg, Sean Sherk, and Matt Hughes to claim the welterweight title in 2006. Just when it seemed the sky was the limit, St. Pierre met a Matt Serra. A blown up lightweight with a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt, Serra represented a seemingly easy fight for St. Pierre. A first round TKO later and Serra made UFC history in his upset win.
The fight appeared to be a lay up, a chip shot for GSP. But, he came up short. Return to Dan Hardy. Georges St. Pierre has proven that he can rise to the occasion against the best in the world, but now in his fourth title defense, the real question is being asked…
Which GSP will show up for Hardy?
St. Pierre has answered the call time and again since regaining his title, but a tough as nails banger with big power such as Hardy requires caution. Will GSP rise to occasion yet again?
If he doesn’t, I know a 27 year old from Nottingham, England that will.