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Hardy misunderstood in lay-and-pray debate

Chris Park, mmatorch.com
September 14, 2010 « Hamilton mistake defended by Whitmarsh | ESPN FA Cup Promo »

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Dan Hardy has never been one to pull his punches, both figuratively and literally, and recently the Team Rough House alum hit out against the increasing amount of lay-and-pray that is finding its way into the Octagon.

Speaking out over the gameplan that Nik Lentz used to defeat Andre Winner at UFC 118 in Boston, Hardy branded Lentz "The UFC's answer to Gandhi" and said that the wrestler "clung to Winner's thigh like a sailor to a mast during a storm."

Hardy vented his frustrations in a column for the Nottingham Evening Post, stating, "Nik Lentz didn't come to fight Andre, he actually came to avoid [a fight] at all costs. In the UFC, you should go for finishes. You should work for 15 minutes to knock your opponent out, submit him, or improve your position to give yourself the best chance of doing either. But there's guys out there who just want to use wrestling to hold a stalemate for 15 minutes, without ever risking going for ground and pounds or attempting submissions."

Hardy's gripe was countered by Nate Marquardt, who fights in this week's main event at UFN 22, with the middleweight quoted at ProMMAnow.com as saying, "wrestling is a big part of MMA. You shouldn't complain about it, you should learn to defend it."

Judging by these comments, Marquardt seems to have completely missed the point that Hardy is making. Having lost to Chael Sonnen at UFC 109, Marquardt seems to believe he has a first-hand experience that qualifies him to wade in on this topic - while at the same time Marquardt has clearly assumed that the core of Hardy's outburst was The Outlaw's own defeat to Georges St-Pierre at UFC 111.

This isn't cheating within the rules, it is actually against the rules

Hardy was no doubt clearly out-wrestled by GSP in their title fight in March, but the champion was constantly attempting bone bending submissions throughout the entire five rounds. Marquardt lost a unanimous decision to Sonnen, but again it was the offensive gameplan of the wrestler that once again won the deserving nod of approval from the judges.

The likes of St-Pierre and Sonnen are the prime examples of how to successfully incorporate wrestling into MMA, and it is these fighters that young wrestlers - like Lentz - should look to for inspiration.

However, the Winner vs. Lentz encounter was a very frustrating one to watch, and this issue is most definitely something that needs to be looked at. For 15 minutes Lentz held onto Winner, inflicting absolutely no damage on the Brit whatsoever, but still picked up a unanimous decision victory while Winner walked away without a scratch in front of the clearly disgruntled Boston crowd.

BJ Penn has recently passed comments suggesting a fighter should not be rewarded for a takedown unless it is followed up with a submission attempt, ground and pound or position improvement of some kind. If a referee feels a fighter is merely attempting to hold an opponent down and eek out the win - using a lay and pray tactic - then a new rule must be implemented to deal with this loophole that is seeing unjustified wins being awarded.

One rule that could be introduced could see the referee able to instruct the judges to treat a takedown as a 'no-score', with the fighter responsible for the stalemate receiving a strike/warning for purposely running down the clock. Three strikes could then result in a point deduction, meaning a fighter would then be forced to be offensive, as not only would his "lay and pray" tactic not receive any kind of positive scoring, but it would in fact see him having points deducted as a consequence for such negative actions.

Nik Lentz did not only kill off any form of a fight in Boston, he also broke the rules of the sport in the eyes of Hardy, who added, "This isn't 'cheating within the rules, it is actually against the rules. 'Timidity' is outlawed in the Unified MMA rules and what better describes the act of holding on to an opponent and waiting for the clock to tick down with no attempt or inclination to do any damage?"

Chris Park is mmatorch.com's UK specialist. To visit mmatorch.com, click here.

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