After a weekend away, the UFC is back to live-action this Saturday night for UFC 264, the first UFC show with a full audience inside Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena since March 7 of last year, including the heavyweight confrontation between unranked competitors Tai Tuivasa (12-3) and Greg Hardy (7-3, 1 NC).
UFC 264 Fighter Comparison
Going into this heavyweight bout at UFC 264, Hardy, a former NFL defensive end with the Dallas Cowboys and Carolina Panthers, is the taller man, standing 6-foot-5, with his opponent Tuivasa standing 6-foot-2.
Additionally, Hardy owns both the reach (80 1/2 inches to 75 inches) and leg reach (44 inches to 39 1/2 inches) over Tuivasa heading into the fight this weekend.
Greg Hardy Not Letting His Past Issues Haunt Him
“The Prince of War”, who has posted a 2-2 record with one no-contest in his last five MMA appearances, had his NFL career derailed by domestic violence issues after being convicted of assaulting his ex-girlfriend (a conviction he later appealed before the case was withdrawn as a whole upon the woman’s refusal to testify.)
After defeating Maurice Greene last Halloween in his most recent win, he met with the media and plead his case, saying:
“You know, some people from my past [were] coming to extort me, put me in crazy situations, try to take food out of my family’s mouth — just a lot of outside circumstances going on. I was breaking down in my bathroom before I even started to fight, you know? I was in tears trying to figure out how we were going to function if I could go on, so, it was just a lot of drama, man. People, like I said, trying to take advantage of my situation.”
In that same junket, Hardy continued with:
“A lot of past stuff just coming back. Like I said, [they were] trying to prey on me, man. You guys know me by now. I would have jumped off a building, did some crazy T.O. [Terrell Owens] stuff if I was that guy… I’m not, never will be. I’ve been a good guy, innocent man. Always have been — and when people come back and they try to prey and take advantage of somebody that’s coming back and redeeming and regaining, kind of messes with my head.”
In Hardy’s most recent appearance, he sustained a second-round knockout (ground and pound strikes) at the hands of Marcin Tybura just before Christmas inside the UFC Apex.
Tai Tuivasa Looks To Build Off of Most Recent KO At UFC 264
In the other corner, “Bam Bam” has posted a 2-3 record in his last five MMA appearances and enters UFC 264 on the strength of a two-fight winning streak. Last time out, Tuivasa stopped Harry Hunsucker (a short-notice replacement for Don’Tale Mayes) at UFC Vegas 22 back in March.
Although the fight at the UFC Apex between Tuivasa and Hunsucker was slated for three, five-minute rounds, Tuivasa only needed 49 seconds to dispose of him and score a technical knockout.
In his post-fight interview with Paul Felder that March evening, the victorious Tuivasa, who dedicated his win to the memory of his late cousin, summed up his successful night thusly:
“Shout-out to TK MMA, all the boys out there in Dubai. Man, I’ve been working with Gohan Saki. The man is one of the best stand-up fighters of all time. I really feel I’ve improved my stand-up, as well. I was just ready for anything. Mad love to ‘Honeysuckle,’ too, for stepping in and I appreciate that, man. Four days’ notice. What a soldier.”
Film Study, Analysis, and Prediction
With this bout being a heavyweight contest, one constant about fights at a contracted weight of 265 lbs. could, undoubtedly, come into play here: As little as one shot could end the fight.
Stylistically, both of these men have the proclivity to do that very thing, as Greg Hardy and Tai Tuivasa are both strikers.
Hardy: King of Punishing Knockouts
If ever there were a fighter who’s the embodiment and the personification of one-punch power in a heavyweight fight, Hardy is that guy.
This is evident in pretty much every win that he has on his record, but looking back on his Contender Series debut three years ago, that fight was a textbook example of how quickly a day of work can end for one of his opponents, in this case, Austen Lane.
That night, Hardy needed all of 57 seconds and one vicious right-handed punch to stun Lane, following it up with an equally vicious left-handed shot to knock him out — although it would only net Hardy a developmental deal with the UFC, he would come back that August to battle Tebaris Gordon.
In that second appearance, Hardy just needed 17 seconds to unload on Gordon with a flurry of right hands, coupled with a knee strike, to end the contest.
Look for Hardy to come out throwing those right hands on Saturday night in UFC 264 if he is to establish control and get out of T-Mobile Arena with a W on his record.
Tuivasa Has Power Himself
Don’t sleep on Tai Tuivasa on Saturday night though, as he’s got some power shots of his own that he’s looking to unload on each time he competes. This is evident in looking at his last fight against Hunsucker back in March.
Tuivasa started his onslaught against Hunsucker with a few leg kicks before landing a nasty right-handed punch to knock him down before unloading on him with ground and pound shots for his 11th career knockout victory.
All 11 of Tuivasa’s career victories by way of knockout have been finished inside the fight’s opening round, so look for him to try and counter Hardy’s offensive gameplan with power punches from his own right hand.
This heavyweight fight at UFC 264 will be predicated exclusively on which of the two fighters establishes control first on Saturday night.
It’s another strength vs. strength confrontation — the only question left is who’s stronger?
Prediction: Greg Hardy by First-Round TKO.
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