Dan Hardy recently shared his take on the UFC 242 co-main event, which will pit Paul Felder against Edson Barboza in a rematch of an excellent fight. The card goes down on September 7 in Abu Dhabi.
“They both have changed [since the first fight],” Hardy said on The War Room. “I would say Paul Felder looks very different. I would say Edson Barboza is much better than the things he was already good at, which is terrifying.
“What we have seen in a recent fight of Edson Barboza is that he can be drowned in pressure if you have got the courage and the durability to march through his kicking game early.”
Felder and Barboza first went head-to-head in 2015. Barboza maintained his strong leg kicks and speed throughout three rounds which secured him a unanimous decision win. Hardy believes Felder can be victorious if he makes the right adjustments.
“I think what Paul Felder would see if you watch their previous fight is that he played around in the kickboxing range too long,” Hardy said. “Sometimes you have to accept that your opponent is faster than you. You have to work around those things. You’ve got to pick your poison against Barboza because the poison that’s going to get you — if it gets you — is going to take you out. The kickboxing range is not somewhere Paul Felder needs to be playing.”
Hardy believes Felder has demonstrated the ability to make appropriate adjustments in previous fights such as his decision win over James Vick in February.
“That was his [Barboza’s] kryptonite in that fight [with Khabib Nurmagomedov] and that just exhausted him. Because Khabib thought, ‘well I can walk myself slowly into range and take 10 kicks, or I can rush into range and take maybe 2.’ That’s why [Numagomedov] was throwing flying knees and stuff, because it wasn’t about what he was going to land at range, it was what he was going to do when he was in range.
“[Barboza] is quite possibly the best kicker in the sport. His speed, as well as his accuracy… His whole body is built as a kicker.
“It’s all about range, this fight, it’s all about ranges,” Hardy continued. “Barboza isn’t going to want to fight in clinch range with Paul Felder because that is where Felder does his best work. He’s a bully in close range. Don’t be surprised if Felder closes distance and gets a take down.”
Edson Barboza recently moved his training to American Top Team and is likely adding new skills into his fighting arsenal, and improving on any shortcomings exposed in his Kevin Lee and Nurmagomedov losses. Hardy predicts Felder may rely on his wrestling and react intelligently to Barboza, because he has matured as a fighter. Either way, both camps will be making educated adjustments.
“If ego has anything to do with it. Felder is going to stand in the centre of the Octagon and trade shots with Barboza. Then, we’re playing Russian roulette with two of the heaviest striking guys in the division,” said Hardy.
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This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 9/3/2019.