Originally slated to fight Alexei Oleynik at UFC 270, Greg Hardy now finds himself scheduled to face off with another Eastern European standout fighter in Sergey Spivak at UFC 272 instead. After suffering two back-to-back losses and his controversial persona in the UFC, a win for Hardy at UFC 272 would mean a great deal.
For Spivak, UFC 272 will also represent a chance at getting back into the winning column as he is currently coming off of a loss to Tom Aspinall last september. Prior to this, Spivak actually defeated Hardy’s original opponent Alexei Oleynik in a three-round decision, but as of now Spivak’s UFC record stands at 4-3 just slightly tipping on the winning side. If he can manage to defeat Hardy on short notice he may be on his way to finally building his UFC record to reflect his immense talent.
Spivak comes in as the favorite over Hardy, the underdog at +176.
- Hardy: +176
- Spivak: -210
Greg Hardy, coming from his base in American Football, is one of the better and more explosive athletes in the current UFC heavyweight division. While he is still a bit green in his MMA career, he makes up for it in his rapid improvements and physicality. He works primarily in a boxing-based approach, where he explodes forward often preferring to lead the exchanges rather than work on the backfoot. However, he will often use a lean back slip to right-hand counter combination when his aggressive pressure draws out his opponent’s attacks. He is very quick and although fundamental in his technique arsenal, has developed a nice straight boxing style that allows him to make the most of his forward explosion, power and precision.
However, although Hardy has evolved as a fighter at an impressive rate, one of the tell-tale signs that he is still developing is his lack in temperament when he believes the finish is near. After hurting his opponent he has been known to empty the tank with wild combinations that don’t necessarily end up being as effective as if he calculated his attack. Against lesser opponents than Spivak this often paid off, as his power ultimately proved he didn’t need much more than one or two shots to get through in order to finish the job, but against Spivak should he find himself winded and unable to get the Moldovan out of the cage, he could definitely find himself in trouble.
Spivak will be the fighter entering the octagon with the wider toolset without a doubt. With almost equal numbers in submissions and knockouts on his record he has proven able to bring the fight to where he wants it, beating Oleynik via mixing his style and Tai Tuivasa via submission in the past.
One of the reasons that Spivak is so effective in dictating where he fight takes place is his ability to frame off, exit clinches and defend takedowns so efficiently. Although Hardy likely won’t be shooting for many takedowns, if the two clash from strikes into a clinch, Spivak will be more comfortable creating the exits and striking off the break.
Spivak has a great jab and a good reach to make the most of it, but he has to be careful of Hardy’s power and know when to circle out from exchanges and look to counter on the offside rather than leave himself down the centerline. He has in the past shown a great ability to time the uppercut off the straight but leaving his chin in the air while doing so puts him in even more danger than he can threaten sometimes. He will likely be the one fighting on the outside of the octagon and having to circle the perimeter so this counter will be an important one should he get Hardy’s timing and be able to slip the straight shots.
Greg Hardy possesses the great equalizer via the power in his hands, and thus Spivak has to be aware at all times. However, with a greater technical understanding on the feet and the potential to take Hardy down and work submissions and ground and pound at a level past Hardy’s current skill set, I lean towards Spivak in this matchup.
Prediction: Sergey Spivak to win
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.