UFC 120 Preview: Is Dan Hardy Looking Past Carlos Condit?

via i56.tinypic.com

Carlos Condit is an excellent fighter. Known for a motor that doesn't stop, the Greg Jackson product has only lost one fight in the last four years - and that was a split decision loss to Martin Kampmann that many thought he deserved to win. He's a dangerous opponent for anyone in the division. Someone better tell Dan Hardy.

The British striker rode a penchant for clever trash talk to a title shot with Georges St. Pierre. After that taste of the limelight, it seems Hardy is looking for the big fights and a return to glory. He tells the MMA Torch that he's ready for opponents that can really test him:

"I got a lot of s*** for the last [title] fight...People were saying I didn't deserve the title shot and that I didn't earn it; so this time, I dunno, the winner of the Matt Hughes-B.J. Penn fight next would be a good start.

"Obviously it depends on the Koscheck-GSP fight, he could be another option. Jon Fitch, Thiago Alves - any of the top guys. I wanna fight the guys who are gonna prove my status in the division."

Hardy has talked quite a bit about what's next. He's talked about his fight with GSP. He's discussed how amazing a battle with Chris Lytle would be. Meanwhile, Condit is focused like a lazer on Hardy. He called the Brit out by name and Yahoo's Dave Meltzer says his aggressive approach to making his own match actually worked:

Condit, nicknamed The Natural Born Killer, ended up becoming his own matchmaker. He saw Hardy as the right strategic opponent for his career, coming off Hardy’s recent notoriety from fighting Georges St. Pierre on March 27. Condit did an interview saying Hardy was the guy he wanted to face next.

UFC matchmaker Joe Silva heard the interview, liked what he heard, and the next thing Condit knew, he’s about to be in one of the two headline matches on what is expected to be the biggest-grossing MMA event ever in Europe.

"Hardy’s got status in the UFC right now," said Condit (25-5), who is generally considered in the bottom half of the top 10 in the division in world welterweight rankings. "You know, he was the No. 1 contender. A win over him would probably catapult me up the rankings. But in addition to that, he’s the kind of fighter that I want to fight. He puts on exciting fights. He comes to finish guys, and I want to be in an exciting fight. I want to give the fans a show."

It's got to be exciting for Hardy to be in front of his countrymen, plotting a course back to title contention. But if he's looking past Carlos Condit, he'll be arranging his next fight with Mike Pierce not Matt Hughes. Fighters in the upper echelon of the division are too tough to be after thoughts. It's an important lesson Hardy may learn very soon.

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