Hardy disappointed despite UFC debut win

SOME people are never happy.

Nottinghamshire fighter Dan Hardy made his Ultimate Fighting Championship debut on Saturday night, was cheered to the rafters by 9,515 fans at Birmingham's National Indoor Arena, and most importantly - he won.

But the 26-year-old is a perfectionist.

Speaking to the Worksop Guardian minutes after leaving the Octagon victorious, with a split-decision win over Japan's Akihiro Gono, Hardy said: "I'm tired and I little bit disappointed."

"I was expecting to be able to push the pace but he was very good at spoiling and he was difficult to pin down."

"I could have been a little more aggressive and been better with my guard."

Regardless, Hardy took home a win, against one of the most experienced and tricky fighters on the UFC's roster.

Gono, a 48-fight veteran, entered the arena in fancy dress with a choreographed dance routine alongside his cornermen.

The fight was at times a tentative affair, Hardy keen to avoid Gono's submission skills on the ground, and the Japanese welterweight doing his best to avoid Hardy's powerful striking.

But the partisan crowd were kept thoroughly entertained, and roared their approval any time Hardy landed a leg kick or scrambled back to his feet after Gono had taken him down.

The Nottingham prospect landed an accidental low blow with an inside

leg kick in round three, and Gono was warned near the end of the round for illegally kneeing Hardy in the head when he was on the mat.

After three five-minute rounds of action, two judges decided Hardy had won the fight, whilst one found in favour of Gono.

Hardy admitted the moments before his hand was raised were very tense.

He said: "You're always worried about decisions, you can never leave it up to the judges and we'd already seen a couple of strange decisions tonight."

"But obviously I was delighted to get the win and have my hand raised."

Despite fighting in front of the biggest audience of his career, the Team RoughHouse stand out said he was calm as he entered to a raucous reception.

"To be honest there were no nerves. I was nervous all the way through my career because there was where I wanted to be and now that I'm here I can just enjoy it."

"Fighting in front of that many people, and winning, was by far the highlight of my career," he added.

It was a good night for British fighters, with Clitheroe's Michael Bisping boxing clever to defeat Chris Leben by a unanimous decision.

Walsall kickboxer Paul Taylor earned 'Fight of the Night' honours for his ferocious display of striking against Chris Lytle, although the Indianapolis welterweight was given the nod by all three judges.

Liverpool's Paul Kelly tapped out to a guillotine choke in round two against Marcus Davis and Doncaster heavyweight Neil Wain was pounded out by Shane Carwin, but Terry Etim, also from Liverpool, won a unanimous decision over Sam Stout.

Full results:

Per Eklund def. Samy Schiavo via submission (RNC) - R3 (1:47)

Jim Miller def David Baron via submission (RNC) - R3 (3:19)

Terry Etim def. Sam Stout via unanimous decision

David Bielkheden def. Jess Liaudin via unanimous decision

Shane Carwin def. Neil Wain via TKO (strikes) - R1 (1:31)

Dan Hardy def. Akihiro Gono via split decision

Marcus Davis def. Paul Kelly via submission (guillotine choke) - R2 (2:16)

Chris Lytle def. Paul Taylor via unanimous decision

Luiz Cane def. Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou via TKO (strikes) - R2 (4:15)

Brandon Vera def. Keith Jardine via split decision

Michael Bisping def. Chris Leben via unanimous decision