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Fight Hard: Chandler vs McNeely - Preview

By Matt Frazier | Knuckle Junkies

When heavyweights Dusty Chandler and Max McNeely face off in the 2015 season finale for Fight Hard MMA it will be the third bout in what has become a exciting trilogy.

The two first squared off in April with McNeely nabbing a first round kimura to capture the Fight Hard MMA heavyweight belt.

The loss sent the Academy of Courage's big man back to the drawing board. Looking to tighten up his striking, Chandler took a K1 fight at Cage Champs in May where he landed a beautiful, highlight reel headkick KO over Jonathan Bradberry. He would return to Fight Hard in June winning with a first round TKO of Joe Norris setting up a potential rematch with McNeely in late August.

The second time it would be Chandler's turn to get his arm raised. Chandler survived early pressure from McNeely, hitting his stride in the second round, surging past McNeely on the score cards to gain a unanimous decision from the judges. The win over McNeely brought the belt back to the AoC making it the third Fight Hard title the team has captured.

McNeely is coming off two straight losses and will be fired up and eager to close out the year on a high note. The two heavies are evenly matched and this could make for a great main event.

Fight Hard welterweight champ Lucas Clay is having one heck of a year. Going into his upcoming bout, he's won four out of five of his MMA bouts, including an August fight against Sam Tamayo to capture the title. Clay, out of St. Charles MMA, appears to be one of the top young guns representing the third wave of fighters from coach Mike Rogers' gym.

Clay won't have an easy fight when he faces Chris Petty out of Cape Girardeau. Petty sports a perfect 5-0 record, most recently stopping top welterweight Brandon Karcher in the first round at Cage Championships in November. With three first round TKO's and two first round submissions, Petty has never seen the second round and appears to be a solid mix of power and athleticism.

Miquel Lisboa, out of Pedigo Submission Fighting, continues to impress. Despite dropping a loss to Justin Lankford in his first MMA bout, the 22 year-old Lisboa has been on a tear winning his next four, three by first round submission and one by KO. He also has won a IBJJF World Championship as a white belt before getting promoted earlier this year to blue by Rodrigo Vaghi and coach Heath Pedigo. Lisboa will face the hard punching and always-tough Derek Clardy out of MCS.

In a bout of two good, young, Jefferson Coutny boys, Evan Elder and Jason Newman will tangle. Elder has created a buzz for himself for the past few years in exhibition kickboxing bouts and is finally old enough to compete in MMA winning, his debut fight over Jamese Taylor in July. Newman has looked great since buckling down and focusing on keeping his weight down and taking his training seriously.

One fight that has plenty excited is between bantamweights LC Hamid and Steven Coleman. Both fighters are relentless and love to scrap.

Coleman has yet to taste defeat in his young career, most recently defeating a seasoned, Bob Hinchliffe at Shamrock FC last weekend. On the same weekend, Hamid dropped a split decision in Mississippi in what by all accounts was a wild affair. Hamid has really shown improvement since joining St. Charles MMA last year His ground game was always a question, but it appears to be no longer holding him back as evident by his two straight first round submissions at Fight Hard.

Here is the full card for next Saturday's Fight Hard MMA:

Max McNeely vs Dusty Chandler
Lucas Clay vs Chris Petty
Miguel Lisboa vs Derek Clardy
Josh Krejci vs Eric Ellington
Tavae Lewis vs Sam Tamayo
LC Hamid vs Steven Coleman
Jake Willyard vs Dan Uhlenbrock
Evan Elder vs Jason Newman
Zane Clerk vs Tyler Madding
Aushton Midkiff vs Da'Rell Fulhum
Nikk Willyard vs Ace Anderson
Clayton Whaley vs Justin Nicholson

Fight Hard MMA: Chandler vs McNeely
Saturday, December 19th
Family Arena, St. Charles, MO

Photo courtesy of Sara Levin Photogrpahy