Greg Hardy makes his return following his bounce-back unanimous decision win over Yorgan De Castro, leaving Hardy now 3-2- with one “no contest” in the UFC, with two first-round knockouts. Hardy has five finishes in his career, all first round knockouts.
Maurice Greene is also coming back off of a bounce-back win, his by modified Ezekiel choke in the third round against Gian Villante on the Poirier vs. Hooker card this past June. That win was Greene’s first submission win in the UFC, and the fifth of his professional career. He also has two knockouts on his record, is 9-4 as a professional and 3-2 in the UFC octagon.
Greene is an intelligent Thai boxer who throws as many kicks as he does punches. He keeps his distance with front kicks to the body and low kicks. He follows them with jabs and hooks but he isn’t an extremely accurate striker. The other concerning thing about his counter striking is that he doesn’t keep his off hand up, and is slow to recover his guard.
Greene doesn’t usually look to get fights to the ground, but he is dangerous from his back. He is an intelligent grappler, though not highly skilled as a BJJ blue belt. In the first two rounds of his most recent fight, Greene looked as good as he ever has. His conditioning looked great going into the third round, his striking was fluid, he was patient and he utilized his reach. What we really wanted to see out of him in that fight however, was an ability to keep his hands up when he throws counters.
Greene is sometimes sloppy returning to his guard when he throws punches. He got away with it until the third round against Villante, thanks to his 8-inch reach advantage, but he eventually got tagged and almost finished. His reach is equal to that of Greg Hardy, and Hardy can throw bombs.
Hardy’s a patient striker who waits for his opportunities to throw punches in bunches. He also throws some great high kicks, as well as kicks to the legs and midsection. He doesn’t check outside leg kicks well, which may be Greene’s key to keeping distance in this one. In either case, Hardy has a stiff jab and follows with solid hooks. He’s a freak athlete and is tough to land clean shots against.
In his last fight, he showed a patience and maturity as a fighter that we hadn’t seen before. He was methodical in his striking and dismantled Yorgan de Castro in the 2nd and 3rd rounds. It’s tough to tell if Hardy really has the ability to swing with the better strikers in this division. Though he clearly beat de Castro, Yorgan completely stopped throwing in the 2nd round and Hardy won the fight purely on output. Prior to that, it was de Castro’s fight.
Against Alexander Volkov, Hardy was getting beat but still had his moments, until he broke his wrist blocking a high kick and couldn’t throw his right hand for the remainder of the fight. Hardy is clearly making an effort not to chase knockouts at this point in his career, each of his last three fights have gone the distance. The other reason he hasn’t found knockouts recently is this: he doesn’t throw counters.
Hardy’s standing defense is entirely reliant on him moving out of the way of his opponents strikes, leaving him off balance and not in a position to return fire. This tendency of Hardy’s effectively nullifies Greene’s biggest weakness, his low hands. Another advantage Greene has that people may be overlooking is that he checks leg kicks very well. If he’s able to check a few early, he’ll be able to keep Hardy off of him the way de Castro did early.
Hardy is an extremely overpriced favorite at -300, but we don’t have enough confidence in Greene to assign him anything more than a flier. We do think Greene has the ability to extend the fight, and Hardy has been making a concerted effort to be patient in his recent fights. We love the over at -110. The Greene Moneyline +250, Hardy by decision +350 and Greene by submission at +1000 could each be worth a look as low unit value plays.
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