BJPenn.Com Exclusive: Dan Hardy Returns to England With a Renewed Passion
UFC welterweight Dan “The Outlaw” Hardy is definitely a man who marches to the beat of his own drum. His quirky and outgoing personality as well as his willingness to lay it all on the line inside the Octagon is what endears him to fans all around the world.
His toughness has never been questioned and if you ask him about his ability to withstand the pain he withstood when Georges St. Pierre had him trapped in a Kimura and an armbar during their title bout at UFC 111, he simply says, “It’s amazing what you’re capable of when you’re prepared to die for what you’re doing,” that’s Dan Hardy in a nutshell.
The unanimous decision loss was the first in what would turn out to be a four fight losing streak for Hardy. There aren’t too many other fighters who could’ve survived with their job intact after losing four straight fights. After defeating Duane Ludwig at UFC 146 this past May he was overcome with emotion.
“It was just such a huge relief, I have put so much hard work in over the past couple of years,” Hardy told BJPenn.Com. “I’m always in the gym, working hard and making all of the sacrifices that everyone else makes. When you lose a fight it not only effects you it effects everyone around you as well. The pressure really started to build up after a couple of losses, so to get that win was a relief more than anything else.”
Hardy’s losses all came against quality opponents. After GSP he faced Carlos Condit, Anthony Johnson and Chris Lytle. He knew things needed to change so he made a drastic decision and made the move to Las Vegas in May of 2011 after splitting the previous four years in California and the UK.
“I’ve been switching things up quite a bit as I was having issues with consistency,” said Hardy. “I had a couple of coaches in the UK that weren’t fully invested in what I was trying to achieve. I need to be at a place where the people can give me everything that I need to succeed. I went through a couple of coaches and tried a couple of different things, but they didn’t seem to fit. I ended up moving out to Las Vegas and met a whole new team of coaches.”
“It all came about when I helped Frank Mir prepare for the second Nogueira fight. I saw the way he constructed his camp and how well it was working so I figured why not give it a shot and make it work for me? We travel around quite a lot and we have four different coaches. Jimmy Gifford is my boxing coach, Shawn Yarborough is the Muay Thai coach, Ricky Lundell covers all of the ground work as far as takedown defense and for BJJ I train with Robert Drysdale. I have access to a lot of talent and a lot of good information.”
Hardy will face Amir Sadollah in the co-main event of UFC on Fuel TV 5 this Saturday. Hardy has come too far and trained too hard to overlook any fighter, especially a guy like Sadollah who may be quiet, but is very skilled.
“He’s a tough, durable guy, I think anyone who watches his fights can see that,” said the 30-year-old Hardy. “Even when his opponent may outmatch him in a particular skill he’s still very dangerous. You always have to be prepared to go the full distance with him. He’s coming in with nothing to lose and a great deal to gain by fighting me. I know I have to prepare for the best Amir Sadollah that we’ve seen.”
The fight with Sadollah will be Hardy’s first bout in England since losing to Condit via first round knockout at UFC 120 in October of 2010. To say he’s excited about fighting so close to home is putting it mildly.
“I’ve lived in Nottingham my whole life and my apartment is right next to the arena,” Hardy said. “It’s a good arena, a good city with a great atmosphere. Everyone is going to be excited because no one thought the UFC would come here because it’s a small arena. I think the atmosphere alone is going to overwhelming and I have so many friends and family coming to the fight. It’s a great opportunity for me to give the fans in Nottingham a great memory of the UFC.”
UFC 154 has two huge welterweight showdowns at the top of the card. In a battle to determine the number one contender Johny Hendricks faces Martin Kampmann. Georges St. Pierre makes his long awaited return as he attempts to unify the UFC welterweight championship against Condit. Hardy knows all four men very well having fought both GSP and Condit.
“I always thought Hendricks was undersized as a welterweight,” admitted Hardy. “Kampmann on the other hand is quite big for the weight class and is very well-rounded. I’ve trained with Kampmann a little bit at Xtreme Couture a few years ago. I know how good his grappling and clinch work has become. He’s a difficult opponent to prepare for because he has a lot of options. Hendricks is on a roll at the moment and is very powerful, he’s a great wrestler and he’s hungry. He’s going to look at Kampmann as an obstacle to a title shot. I really can’t pick a winner because I’m friends with both guys; I just hope we see a good fight. My only concern is Kampmann is coming off quite a long layoff and that could put him at a disadvantage against someone as talented as Hendricks.”
“GSP-Condit is pretty clean cut to be honest having fought both guys. I know how good they both are, but I don’t think stylistically GSP is a good match-up for Condit. Condit wins most of his fights by capitalizing on his opponents mistakes. When I fought him he took advantage of the fact that I kept my hand down when I threw a left hook and he caught me. With GSP he is so calculated and so controlling that he doesn’t make many mistakes. It might be quite a boring fight, but I see GSP pretty much shutting him down and not giving him any options.”
Before he became a fighter Hardy was a very talented artist. He is considered a free spirit and uses his artistic talents to show the world the other Dan Hardy. Although time is limited these days he sees a time when he can begin showcasing his skills outside of the cage.
“I studied in Nottingham and got a degree in Contemporary Art,” offered Hardy. “I spent years painting and sculpturing and doing photography. I really enjoyed myself and it’s a great way to express yourself. I’m a huge fan of self expression in any form. As a kid I was a big fan of scribbling and sketching and it kind of continued after I finished school. I don’t have a great deal of time to do it now, but it is something I look forward to when my career winds down and I’m an old man.”