If you like a good old-fashioned throwdown, make sure you're on the couch on Saturday night when Dan Hardy
and Anthony Johnson
get set to do work in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 24
Considered two of the UFC welterweight division's biggest punchers, the two virtually guaranteed that every moment of the fight would be filled with stand-up action, until one of them is no longer able to stand.
"I'm not planning to go to the ground with Anthony," Hardy told MMA Fighting during a teleconference. "I'm planning to send him down on his own."
Johnson felt even more strongly about the chances of seeing any grappling or groundwork.
"Hell, no. This fight ain't going to the ground," he said. "You're talking to two guys who love to bang, plain and simple. We don't like that lovey-dovey stuff, we want to keep it on the feet, give everybody what they want, what they pay their money for."
The fight involves some potentially big stakes; Hardy is on a two-fight losing streak while Johnson will be fighting for the first since a Nov. 2009 submission loss to Josh Koscheck. Given the deep welterweight talent pool, the loser risks being left behind if not cut altogether.
The bout might have more importance for Hardy, who was knocked out for the first time in his career after more than 30 fights at UFC 120. Hardy said there were no psychological ramifications to having his lights shut off for the first time, and that he was back in the gym just days later.
He attributes the KO loss to Carlos Condit to his own overconfidence and a belief in his superiority as a striker, and said he has no qualms about continuing on with his aggressive striking style, even though he acknowledged it's sometimes "a roll of the dice." That is part of the fun of fighting for him, and he wants the pressure of it, along with a feeling that he may even be fighting for his job.
"It happens," he said of the knockout. "It's annoying. The thing that annoys me about it is that Condit thinks he's a better fighter than me now and i know in my heart that's not true. But as far as actually getting knocked out, let's be honest, it doesn't hurt. I opened my eyes and had doctors around me and knew exactly what happened straight away. But there's no pain, nothing to be scared of. It's one of those things, sometimes it happens. It doesn't change anything. I'm going to keep doing exactly what I do because I love doing it."
While he was rehabilitating his knee, Johnson voiced a possibility of moving up to middleweight but says now he threw out the possibility to keep his name in the news, and that he was never serious about the idea. Now, though, he plans to put his name in the headlines with his performance.
"I try to make a statement every time I fight to let everybody know who I am," he said. "That's just who I am, period. I have to go out there and show I'm back. It's time to go out there, put them hands up, and do what me and Dan do best, and that's throw punches and throw blows and knock people out. So one way or another, somebody's getting knocked out."