MMA math: Dan Hardy knocked out Duane Ludwig. Duane Ludwig out-struck Amir Sadollah. So Dan Hardy should beat Amir Sadollah… right?
Striking: Since Dan Hardy and Amir Sadollah usually like to stand and trade with their opponents, this fight will probably be decided by striking. One could be forgiven for thinking Hardy has the advantage in such a situation. While the general online attitude towards both Hardy and Sadollah is one of disdain, Hardy has taken on elite welterweight opponents in the UFC, while Sadollah’s toughest match was against Dong Hyun Kim (or Johny Hendricks, but this was very early in Hendricks’s career). When fans think of Hardy’s fights, they remember Georges St-Pierre and Carlos Condit, and when they think of Sadollah’s fights, they think of people like Phil Baroni and Peter Sobotta. But when I did statistical analysis of this fight, it screamed that Sadollah is the better striker. The approach I’m using is to go through Fight Metric data and compare each fighter’s accuracy and pace against an opponent to the average for that opponent. When I did this, Sadollah graded out as a decent striker, but nothing special. But Hardy graded out terribly in almost every fight.
In fairness, Hardy has been wrestled to oblivion in fights before, and his resulting four significant strikes against Georges St-Pierre and two significant strikes against Anthony Johnson don’t say that much about his striking. But even when Hardy has had every opportunity to stand and bang, he’s turned in dismal performances. Cases in point: Carlos Condit and Chris Lytle. Hardy turned things around in his last fight, a KO win over Duane Ludwig, but to this point, that fight is the exception, not the rule. And while Hardy is one of the most inefficient strikers in the UFC welterweight division, Amir Sadollah actually has pretty good striking defense. This is a new/experimental kind of approach to evaluating fights, but if I’m right, Hardy is going to be very frustrated trying to land strikes on Amir Sadollah, and I think Sadollah will out-point him over 15 minutes.
Wrestling: Neither man is very good at it, but Sadollah at least has decent takedown defense, while Hardy tends to fold like a lawn chair. It’s not out of the question for Sadollah to take advantage of this, but I doubt he will.
Submissions: To Hardy’s credit, he did show great submission escapes against St-Pierre, but he doesn’t have much ground offense of his own. Hardy’s general style is to just stand and bang anyway, as is the case with Sadollah. Since I don’t think we’ll see much wrestling, I don’t think we’ll see much ground game either.
Prediction: Amir Sadollah by decision. Sadollah’s last two fights might have left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths, and it is troubling that he has yet to win by TKO, despite being a striker. But Hardy is less of a knockout artist than his last fight would indicate, and his striking is so inefficient that I feel Sadollah should be able to take advantage of it. I understand why Hardy is the favorite to win here, and I’m going out on a limb with an unproven style of analysis, but from what I’ve seen, I have to pick Sadollah to win a decision in this one.