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By: Chris Park, MMATorch UK Specialist
The Jekyll and Hyde career of Dan "The Outlaw" Hardy took another ugly turn on Sunday night, as the British welterweight was submitted in the final moments of his barn-burner brawl with the retiring Chris Lytle. After foolishly taking the submission-adept American to the mat, Hardy found himself trapped in a guillotine choke; and the the flailing Englishman was forced to tap so the referee could drag Lytle away from.
Hardy specifically asked for this bout with Lytle, as he knew the American was tailor made for the type of stand-up war that he been so bitterly craving. All of the hype and all of the build up to this encounter was that Lytle would turn a blind-eye to his opponent's glaring ground-game weaknesses and retire in a ball of flames - or even a blaze of glory.
It would turn out to be the latter for Lytle as he hung up his UFC mitts with an extra $130k stuffed in his back pocket, having soaked up the bonus dollars for both "Fight of the Night and Submission of the Night but the future now looks even more unclear for The Outlaw.
At an even 4-4, Hardy has referred to his time in the UFC as "the quickest rise, and the quickest fall the UFC has ever seen." His performance and bravery in this encounter saw UFC big-wig Lorenzo Fertitta take to Twitter to applaud Hardy and announce his immediate job security.
The irony of this whole situation is that Hardy was the one stalking Lytle towards the end, having rocked his opponent on a few occasions and sending him on his back foot. The British corner was urging Hardy to crank the pressure up a notch knowing he must avoid a judges decision.
This made the choice to go for the takedown all the more surprising, and in time may turn out to be one of the worst decisions of "The Outlaw's" career. But for now the Brit will take some much needed time away from the spotlight before he returns to the Octagon for what will undoubtedly be the final opportunity to salvage his UFC career.
It is difficult to say where Hardy now needs to channel his focus after he was ultimately beaten at his own game in Milwaukee. Before the submission, Hardy was taking way too many unnecessary shots, displaying minimal head movement, and the early disappearance of any kicks was a worrying sight for any of his observing fans.
A spell in the gym, learning new tricks, without a fight date in diary, may be exactly what Hardy needs at this point of his career, as the mental aspect appears to be as much of an issue as anything here.
Up until now Hardy's losses were put down to a dominant champion, a million dollar punch and a 15-minute smothering. But on Sunday it was apparent that "The Outlaw" of old was not the figure standing inside Octagon.
Chris Park is the MMATorch UK Specialist and guest columnist at ESPN.co.uk. Please email any comments or questions to Chris at; firstname.lastname@example.org or look us up at http://www.facebook.com/mmatorchuk2 our new MMATorch Facebook home for UK Fans!
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