2009 saw George "Rush" St. Pierre defeat two dangerous foes and he's beginning his 2010 campaign against another one. Such has been the career of GSP. There are extremely few fighters in any combat sport that can match the strength of schedule that this guy has consistently faced. This 28-year-old Montreal, Canada native has had the 170 pound division on lock now for years and there seems to be no end in sight to his great run. GSP seems to almost transcend the sport of MMA and, thanks to sponsorship deal with corporations like Gatorate, Under Armour and others, he is quickly reaching heights that no MMA star has achieved thus far in the sport's very brief history (certainly, at least, no fighter in the lighter weight divisions). With such success, however, often comes the tendency to get complacent. Will St. Pierre and his team come out with the right strategy and focus on Saturday night? Has he continued to strive and prepare harder than anyone to continue improving his game? I believe that the answers to those questions are yes. At UFC 111, however, Dan Hardy is going to do everything in his power to show that GSP is far from an unbeatable welterweight. Georges St. Pierre has a professional record of 19-2 with eight wins coming by way of knockout and five wins coming by way of submission. The combined career winning percentage of the opponents that he has faced thus far is an incredible 75.6%!
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The U.K. has been providing the MMA world with some real talent in recent years and Dan "The Outlaw" Hardy is one of its best fighters. The brash 27-year-old is 4-0 since signing with Zuffa in late 2008. A tentative performance against Akihiro Gono was followed up by a dominant performance against IFL veteran Rory Markham. Back to back decision victories against Mike Swick and Marcus Davis now have Dan becoming the first Englishman to challenge for a UFC championship. Hardy is a skilled striker coming from a tae kwon do background and also possesses some KO power. We haven't seen him tested too much on the ground yet during his UFC stint but he has supposedly worked diligently at cultivating those skills. Will he be able to keep enough distance in this fight to work his combinations effectively? Will he pull the trigger on his strikes at the right time? Will he be able to control the pacing and, more importantly, survive the inevitable damage that he'll sustain on the ground? Saturday is an enormous opportunity for Dan Hardy and the mere fact that he's fighting for this championship is indicative of how much talent exists in the U.K. MMA fans worldwide are taking notice. Dan Hardy has a professional record of 23-6 with eleven wins coming by way of knockout and four wins coming by way of submission. The combined career winning percentage of the opponents that he has faced thus far is 60.1%.
For his part, Dan Hardy has done a decent job in attempting to really sell this fight and intrigue potential viewers. Like his compatriot Michael Bisping, Hardy has a knack for developing a following (both of fans that cheer for him and fans that want to see him knocked out). Hardy is a credible opponent for St. Pierre but I'm just not convinced that there is a welterweight in the world right now that can defeat a healthy Georges St. Pierre. Look for Hardy to try and score with some big shots early, trying to goad St. Pierre into making a mistake. Despite the fact that Hardy possesses real standup power he has only finished one of his four opponents thus far in the UFC and that makes me wonder just how likely he is to put St. Pierre down for good. Unfortunately for Dan, I'm thinking that the damage that he'll sustain from GSP's ground and pound will be too much for him in the end. Hardy is still a young man and seems to be continuing to improve. I look for him to be a player in the 170 pound division for awhile. My prediction: St. Pierre by submission in the 4th round.