UFC 95 Notebook: Hardy Baits Davis

By Brian Knapp Feb 23, 2009
In each of his six trips across the pond, Marcus Davis has made his Irish heritage a point of emphasis. Consider Dan Hardy among those who do not buy the act.

Hardy (21-6, 1 NC) knocked out International Fight League veteran and Pat Miletich protégé Rory Markham with a stinging left hook in just 69 seconds in the co-main event at UFC 95 “Sanchez vs. Stevenson” on Saturday at the O2 Arena in London. Afterward, he zeroed in on Davis.

“I certainly think it’d make an exciting fight,” Hardy said. “Without a doubt, Marcus is a great fighter to watch. I’m a fan of his. I like watching all of his fights. He’s had a couple of fights in the UK, and he’s kind of building himself a fan base, but he’s not English; he’s not Irish. I was born here, and I’ve been bred here. I don’t mind taking on that challenge and showing him this is my home and not his.”

Sporting his trademark maroon Mohawk, Hardy picked up his fifth consecutive win at UFC 95. The 26-year-old appears poised for stardom, much like that currently being experienced by middleweight contender Michael Bisping. Hardy credits “The Ultimate Fighter 3” winner with paving the way to the UFC for other UK imports.

“I think Michael’s probably a bit relieved he’s not the only person flying the flag anymore,” Hardy said. “I’m certainly not trying to steal his spot; he’s done wonders for the UK in MMA. I think he’s secured his spot. We’ve just got his back; that’s all.”

Known for his willingness to stand and trade for the benefit of those in attendance, Davis (16-4) has posted 13 wins in 14 fights. He last competed at UFC 93 in Dublin, Ireland, last month, as he notched a split-decision victory against cagy veteran Chris Lytle. Whether or not the UFC will place the Maine native on Hardy’s plate remains to be seen.

“It’s up to the UFC,” Hardy said. “All I do is train and fight. I think I’ve proved I can get the job done. I’m excited about the fact that America now knows who I am.”

Marquardt Maintains One-Track Mind

Hours after, people still wanted to talk about Nate Marquardt’s memorable technical knockout of American Top Team thoroughbred Wilson Gouveia.

Marquardt (28-8-2) electrified the cage with a third-round flying knee and then finished Gouveia with a wide variety of strikes, from alternating head kicks to a spinning back fist, punches and knee against the cage. The soon-to-be 30-year-old Jackson’s Submission Fighting standout has won back-to-back fights by TKO since his controversial split-decision loss to Thales Leites last summer.

“I started in karate and Brazilian jiu-jitsu,” Marquardt said. “I have a lot of stuff in my background where I’m able to pull from. I feel very good on my feet now.”

Though both he and Gouveia appeared fatigue by the time the fight reached its climax, Marquardt mustered the surge he needed and let everyone know there was plenty left in his gas tank. Under the onslaught, Gouveia (12-6) collapsed against the cage, necessitating the stoppage.

“Conditioning is important in every fight, even in the first round,” Marquardt said. “If you don’t believe you can go all three rounds, you could be in some trouble. Even when I’m tired in that third round or whatever, I still feel explosive; I still feel I can move quickly and have that knockout power in the end. We were both tired, but I wasn’t going to slow down the way I fought. I have confidence in my training.”

Talk inevitably turned to UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, a man against whom Marquardt has pined openly for a rematch. Silva stopped the former King of Pancrase on first-round strikes at UFC 73 in 2007. Marquardt appears to have the clearest path to the Brazilian, along with the undefeated Demian Maia. The Coloradan seemed resigned to the fact that he may be at least one more win away from another crack at Silva.

“I think my last three or four fights have shown that I deserve a title shot,” Marquardt said, “but if I need to face Demian first, that’d be great.”

Maia Hits Post-Fight Paydirt Again

At this rate, Maia can retire off bonus money alone.

The 31-year-old Brazilian, perhaps the sport’s premier ground fighter, earned a $40,000 “Submission of the Night” bonus after he coaxed a tapout from Chael Sonnen with a first-round triangle choke. Maia (10-0) has submitted all five of his opponents inside the Octagon, earning “Submission of the Night” bonuses in four of those five fights. All told, he has banked nearly a quarter of a million dollars ($215,000) in post-fight bonus money.

“It’s not hard to decide [what to do with it],” Maia said with a smile. “It’s hard when you don’t have money. When you have money, it’s easy to decide what you’re going to do.”

Having emerged as arguably the greatest threat to Silva’s reign as middleweight king, the two-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion has won each of his five UFC fights with chokes. Maia wants his shot at the belt.

“If I have the chance, I want to fight for the title,” he said. “I’ve won five fights by submission [in the UFC]. I think I deserve to fight [for the championship]. I feel prepared right now -- physically, psychologically and technically.”

Other post-fight money went to newcomer Paulo Thiago, who pocketed a $40,000 “Knockout of the Night” bonus after he stunned world-ranked welterweight Josh Koscheck -- a man who had withstood the considerable offensive talents of champion Georges St. Pierre and top contender Thiago Alves -- 3:29 into their match.

Meanwhile, Diego Sanchez and Joe Stevenson were awarded matching $40,000 “Fight of the Night” bonuses after their spirited three-rounded battle in the main event. Sanchez took a unanimous decision in his lightweight debut.

This & That

UFC 95 “Sanchez vs. Stevenson” featured six first-round finishes -- the most at a numbered UFC show since UFC 84 in May; that event, punctuated by lightweight champion B.J. Penn’s thrashing of Sean Sherk, also produced half a dozen stoppages inside one round. In fact, only three other shows this decade -- UFC 71, UFC 51 and UFC 40 -- have delivered as many early finishes … Mike Ciesnolevicz scored the quickest submission victory of his career when he coaxed a tapout from Neil Grove with a heel hook in just 63 seconds. The 29-year-old Pat Miletich protégé submitted Rashad Brooks with a key lock in 1:09 at an Extreme Challenge show in 2006 … Terry Etim put an end to Palace Fighting Championship lightweight titleholder Brian Cobb’s nine-fight winning streak when he flattened him with a head kick and ground punches. It was Cobb’s first defeat in almost two years and represented the first time an opponent had stopped him on strikes … All three men who entered UFC 95 unbeaten -- Thiago, Maia and Xtreme Couture lightweight prospect Evan Dunham -- left the cage with their perfect marks intact.
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