UFC 146 (May 26, 2012)
Dan Hardy Vs Duane Ludwig
Winner – Dan Hardy Via Round 1 KO
Dan Hardy – Redemption
Mixed Martial Arts is more than a sport, more than just fighting and more than an art form. Through the intense distending of the mind and body, MMA continuously produces some of the most profound expressions of the human spirit available for mass consumption. From the long list of powerful, emotional and beautiful moments produced by combat, there is one in particular that I want to focus on in this series: Redemption. The overwhelming sense of relief a fighter displays after successfully ‘redeeming’ themselves in the cage/ring by snapping a losing streak or returning from a serious injury, creates one of the most powerful moments in all of combat sports. This series will be solely focused on that moment.
Before entering into his UFC Welterweight title shot against George St Pierre at UFC 111 in March of 2010, Dan Hardy put together an impressive thirteen fight run that resulted in twelve wins and one controversial loss via DQ. This (virtually) undefeated run was highlighted by four impressive wins in the UFC against notable opponents including Mick Swick and Marcus Davis. Entering into the fight with GSP, Hardy was in peak form with steep momentum on his side. Unfortunately for Hardy — and almost anyone who faces GSP — he was dominated for the majority of a five-round fight. The fight with GSP marked Hardy’s first legitimate loss in four years as well as his first in the UFC.
It is extremely difficult for any fighter to reach the pinnacle of their division and for that alone, a fighter deserves endless praise. But for a competitor with the intensity and fire of Dan Hardy, reaching the pinnacle without succeeding in his ultimate goal would have caused more torment than any other loss.
After taking seven months away from the cage, Hardy returned to action at UFC 120 in October of 2010 to face the ascending Carlos Condit. The event took place in Hardy’s home country, with his fight being featured as the Co-Main event. Eager to put the GSP loss behind — with the added pressure of fighting in front of his home crowd — Hardy fought impressively for the majority of the first round before being brutally knocked out with 30 seconds remaining in the round. This was his second consecutive loss and his first and last by knockout.
Now on a two-fight skid, Hardy searched for redemption in 2011 but unfortunately came up short once again. Losing a frustrating fight with Anthony ‘Rumble Johnson, followed by a Fight of The Night loss to Chris Lytle. Dan Hardy entered 2012 with a four-fight losing streak spanning the previous two years. Now with uncertainty surrounding his future as a UFC fighter, Hardy was given the opportunity to face Duane Ludwig at UFC 146 (on the prelims).
Now four losses removed from his impressive thirteen fight win streak — and three from his shot at the title — Dan Hardy stepped into the cage against Duane Ludwig with his career on the line. It is hard to fathom the Pressure felt, both internally and externally, by Hardy leading up to this fight. Battling through the pressure and self-doubt, Dan Hardy was not only able to put an end to his losing streak and save his career but to do so in spectacular fashion. The expression of pure relief displayed by Hardy immediately after the fight is exactly what makes this his moment of redemption.