UFC 264’s third fight of the main card will see heavyweight powerhouses Tai Tuivasa and Greg Hardy clash in a bout more than likely to end with a body on the canvas.
After winning two straight against Stefan Struve and Harry Hunsucker, Australia’s own Tai Tuivasa looks to continue his winning ways. Hardy on the other hand needs a victory this Saturday in order to bounce back from a loss to Marcin Tybura.
Both heavyweights are known for their punching power, with a combined 16 knockouts over 18 victories. Throughout the history of the heavyweight division, fans have come to expect fireworks from the 265-pounders, and the division of today is no different. With knockout artists such as Jairzinho Rozenstruik, Derrick Lewis, and champion Francis Ngannou, it is a particularly exciting time to be a heavyweight contender.
Although a win against the other won’t be enough to catapult either man into title contention, an impressive performance could mean a huge step up the ladder.
Tuivasa vs. Hardy betting odds
Tai Tuivasa will enter this UFC 264 bout as the betting favorite with odds of -140 against Greg Hardy who is listed as a slight underdog on most betting sites.
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Tuivasa vs. Hardy breakdown
When he isn’t doing ‘shoeys’ with fans, Tai Tuivasa is laser-focused in the octagon. He is extremely explosive for the weight class, and although he has recently slimmed down for two of his last three fights, expect him to come out at the 265-pound limit against Greg Hardy.
The keys to victory for Tuivasa include a major advantage in the kicking game. This applies specifically to the heavy leg kicks Tuivasa has in his arsenal. Against Sergey Spivak, it took only one to drop the Ukrainian in the opening seconds of the round. These are also what lead to setting up the knockout of Harry Hunsucker.
Tuivasa has a talent for timing these leg kicks when his opponents have shifted their weight onto their front leg, often exactly as they strike. In doing so, Tuivasa often stops them in their tracks or takes the leg out from underneath them. When this happens, Tuivasa has most success with his hands while his opponent is off balance.
Tuivasa also likes to explode forward with his overhand right, which if not landed flush, leads to the clinch against the cage where he is comfortable using short elbows and knees. If he can find success in this area, we have seen Tuivasa able to pour on powerful boxing and get the finish with his opponent against the fence.
However, while these moves are deadly when executed by Tuivasa, his favoritism towards them has gotten him into trouble in the past. Against Spivak, after landing the leg kick multiple times, Spivak was able to anticipate and catch the kick in order to secure the takedown. He was also able to slip the right hand to initiate his clinch throws. On the bottom, Tuivasa demonstrated a bit of a lack in understanding mount defense, however, this fight happened two years ago so expect improvements.
Greg Hardy, compared to Tuivasa, holds a bit of a boxing advantage. In his last performance against Marcin Tybura, Hardy showed an extensively evolved boxing game in the first round. He is also one of the rare heavyweights to actually rival if not surpass Tuivasa’s explosiveness and definitely utilizes a quicker and straighter punching style. He favors countering by slipping backward and landing the straight cross but also excels when leading.
His one major flaw in the striking department is he has a habit of over-committing to the finish when he feels his opponent is hurt, throwing wide and wild due to over-excitement. Although this has paid off in the past, Tuivasa represents a step up in competition with the exception of Hardy’s loss to Alexander Volkov. If Hardy tires himself out looking for the finish at the wrong time, Tuivasa may very well have the experience and skill to make him pay for it.
Tuivasa vs. Hardy prediction
It is imperative for Hardy to utilize the jab if he wants to win. He should also look to mix in his takedowns to keep Tuivasa uncomfortable, although both men prefer to strike, and Hardy isn’t particularly known for devastating ground and pound, I believe he does have a slight edge in the wrestling.
That being said, I think that ultimately, Tuivasa’s leg kicks will be able to slow down Hardy’s movements. With such a boxing-centric striking game, Hardy relies on keeping that weight on the front foot, exactly where Tuivasa wants it. However, Tuivasa will have to be especially cautious moving forward with that overhand right, and choose carefully when he wants to explode forward. If he can set up the right hand with feints, jabs, and leg kicks I think Tuivasa can secure the win.
Prediction: Tai Tuivasa to win by second-round TKO
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How to watch Tai Tuivasa vs. Greg Hardy
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Braeden Arbour is an aspiring journalist out of Ontario, Canada. He is a recent graduate of Trent University, with a black belt in Karate and a blue belt in Judo. He has also been an avid fan of MMA for the last decade.