The last time we ran into Dan Hardy, we had no clue what we were doing with this site. We still don’t, but back then we really didn’t know. Somehow we managed to get a press pass to the International Mixed Martial Arts Expo in Southern California and our reporter, Elena Lopez, located Dan Hardy posted up next to some undisclosed booth. She reached in her bag, shoved a microphone in his face and luckily he didn’t walk away from us. In the brief interview, Dan Hardy said that he felt like he was just outside the top ten in his weight division and with a couple more wins under his belt he would reassess his position. After Hardy’s massive win over Swick and Paul Daley’s upset of Kampmann, Dan Hardy is now the #1 contender for the welterweight belt and will face GSP in some New Jersey hellhole March 27th 2010 at UFC 111 (or as the Canadians call it ‘Another UFC event we got screwed out of’).
Somehow, in some long string of chance victories, we managed to interview Dan Hardy again. This time, Dick Grayson conducted a thirty-five minute long interview complete with F/Marry/Kill questions. Our transcriber, Rachel, fell in love with him. She wanted me to put that in there. She also needs a boyfriend, feel free to email her. Check out our exclusive interview with Dan Hardy only on MiddleEasy.com – Because MMA is everything.
What kind of kid were you growing up?I was pretty quiet to be honest. I was always pretty focused on whatever I was interested in at the time. You know whether it was Lego or books or whatever—as soon as I set my mind on something, I was pretty focused on it. I usually spend a lot of time on my own. I trained all the way through when I was a kid. I started at 6. And that is the only thing I kind of did out of school—socially—the rest of the time I spent, I was on my own so I was pretty quiet really.
When you go out with your friends, what type of person are you? I guess I’m the joker. I’m the guy that’s always trying to – winding people up and just having a laugh. I don’t mind mocking myself a little bit as well to make people laugh. I just like to have a good time. I’m pretty laid back.
What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not training or fighting? I don’t know really. I mean music is a big part of my life. I don’t play it as much anymore but I certainly listen to a lot of music…and films as well—just music and films really. A lot of the time—you know when I’m not in the gym, I don’t really want to be doing anything too active so I spend a lot of time sitting around.
I have heard that you like to sum up your upcoming opponents in one general description. What would be your general description of GSP in terms of his skills? Well-rounded, straightforward and pretty boring I would say. You know exactly what he is going to do in every fight. He just happens to be so good at it that he can get away with it most of the time.
Your stand up is more than adequate to go up against GSP, but the thing with GSP is the minute he thinks he stands to lose a fight or thinks cannot beat his opponent when it comes to striking, he is obviously going to take you down. When he takes you down, what is your contingency plan? Well I work hard on my jiu-jitsu. A lot of people underestimate it because they’ve never really seen anything of it. That’s normally because in a lot of other fights, I’ve not really felt like I needed to use it. A lot of the time I’ve been fighting guys that I’ve felt confident I can get up and start striking again. That’s pretty much always my game plan; whereas GSP I’m obviously planning on, at some point, being on my back and I don’t want to waste too much energy trying to get up—particularly if he takes me down towards the end of the round. I’ll be working on my rubber guard and my Tenth Planet Jiu-Jitsu—tying him up and seeing what I can threaten him with.
You mentioned that you are GSP’s kryptonite. What, specifically, do you have for him that’s going to weaken him? I just have a mindset and a confidence that are really going to cause him some problems. I think that a lot of time when people step into the octagon against him, they are so concerned with his wrestling and his clench work that they kind of hold back a little bit. I’m just not the kind of guy that is going to do that, so there is going to be pressure on him from the start. And the other thing as well is that everyone is going to expect him to win and no one thinks that I am going to cause him any kind of problems so there is a lot of pressure on him in that respect because he’s got to come in a perform and he’s got to be very, very impressive. All I’ve got to do is go in there and just enjoy myself and you know do the best I can—obviously I’m thinking I’m going to win, but no one else does so that takes all the pressure off me and that’s what’s gonna you know put the pressure on him.
The lead up to the fight so far, I know the fight is a couple months away, but it’s been pretty quiet. Do you think its going to stay this way or do you think its going to temper up a bit or do you think for the most part this is what it is going to be like between you guys? No I think that—I certainly think that there’s going to be some tension leading up to the fight. I’ve not officially started training camp yet so I’m still training but I’m kind of maintained at the moment. I’m in my off-peak training so I’m really not thinking about the fight too much at the moment. You know we’re studying videos and stuff but I’m not in the mindset to wake up every morning and get in the gym thinking about GSP. At the moment, I’m just enjoying training. And as soon as I start thinking about GSP that’s when I’m going to start—I’ll start saying a few things in interviews that I’m sure will upset him. You know we’ll go back and forth a bit I think.
You mentioned training at Tenth Planet Jiu-Jitsu—they’re kind of renowned—Eddie Bravo is kind of renowned for his rubber guard. Now in the UFC, you see a bunch of people trying the rubber guard but when I see them try and attempt it, it doesn’t really pass the first state—I think he calls it “chill dog”. That’s pretty much the extent of my rubber guard. Why do you think you don’t see anything past that? I just think that Eddie’s not got any you know first-generation students in the UFC. I’m the only person in Tenth Planet that trains with Eddie you know regularly and that competes in UFC. The rest of the guys that are trying rubber guard live a distance away like Jason Day and George Sotiropoulos is in the gym quite a lot but hes still only there a couple of weeks at a time. So there are a lot of good guys out there that are bringing rubber guard in—you know Vinny Magalhaes is really, really taking on the rubber guard and adding it into his game as well, so I think we’re in the process of seeing these guys coming out. I’m obviously not a high-level jiu-jitsu guy—which is why you’ve not seen me using it too much but you know I think that within the next two or three years you’re going to start seeing a lot more guys use it because its very applicable to the UFC and to MMA in general. I just think we need more experienced people to spend a lot of time with Eddie working on it for it to be as effective as it should be.
Do you think a move to 185 is in your future? I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m not sure. I’m not sure that I have the frame to carry that weight to be honest. I do walk around—usually about 205…210 so I do carry that kind of weight. I’m not sure yet. I’m not sure. My focus at the moment is on welter weight and for the foreseeable future, that’s where I’m going to be. You know it’s a competitive division. There are a lot of guys in the division that I would look forward to fighting, so I think I am comfortable there for now.
Regardless of who wins in the fight between GSP and yourself, name two fighters that you think should be in contention for the next title fight. In my division?
Yes. Regardless of whether you win or not, which two welter weights? Well obviously Josh Koscheck is the one that’s currently behind me I would say. He’s the only one you know that’s had a few fights since he’s fought GSP last and won a few. I mean he’s been lately inconsistent, but I would say he’s probably the next in line and after that, its difficult. I think Thiago Alvez needs a couple of fights before he should be back in contention. The only other guy I would probably say is Jon Fitch. He’s very consistent Jon Fitch. He gets in there and he dominates so I think he’s the only person who has really proved he deserves another shot—even though I don’t think the rematch would go very differently. I think it’d be the same.
One Koscheck question: Any comment on his statements that you’re not the number one contender? I think he is just bitter to be honest. You know…I’m in a position that he’d like to be in. At the end of the day, like I said, he’s just not consistent. He wins fights; he loses fights. You know in order to get a title shot you need to kind of rise above the rest. You know a couple of fights ago when I knocked out Rory Markham, he got knocked out by Paulo Thiago and now Thiago has not been impressive since that fight either so it doesn’t really prove a lot. I think he needs to maybe slow his pace a little bit and not take fights so regularly and concentrate on getting some decent wins under his belt. His win against Anthony Johnson was a good one tied to his record but I think he needs a couple more. I think he’s just bitter and I think he’s just shit-talking. At the end of the day, the guy is an asshole and that’s the character that he plays and I think everybody realizes that so he’s expected to say those kinds of things so whatever. He’ll get what’s coming to him at some point.
We’d like to get two predictions from you on the upcoming UFC fight. Rashad Evans vs. Thiago Silva. Who do you think will win? I’m thinking Rashad by decision. I think after his last fight, he’s going to want to step it up a little bit. I don’t think he’ll be too happy about his situation at the moment and the fact that he did not hold the belt for too long so I think that he’s stepped up his training and he comes from a solid camp as well so I think they’ll put good game plans together and he’ll get a decision.
I think Jake Shields versus Dan Henderson is in the works. What do you think will happen there? I just think that Dan Henderson just by being stronger and better at wrestling. I think he—I mean Jake Shields, technically, is very good but I don’t think he’s got that fighter inside him like Dan Henderson has got. Henderson can bring the fight to you wherever the fight goes and he can always turn it into a brawl and I don’t think Jake Shields likes that kind of pressure. I think Dan Henderson by probably TKO in the third.
Name one fighter that impresses you. Frankie Edgar. I would say Frankie Edgar at the moment. His fight against Sean Sherk was awesome.
Who is the next great UK fighter that no one has heard of yet? Jimmy Wallhead.
I think he just signed on to Bellator? Bellator yeah. No one’s heard of him yet. Obviously he’s quite well-known in the UK scene, but as soon as he gets a couple of wins on Bellator, people will start paying attention to him.
If you were to corner GSP in his 185 fight against Spider, what would you be telling him? I’d be telling him to…[laughter]…probably to get him to the ground as quickly as possible. He can’t deal with Anderson Silva’s range and you know technical ability. I think Anderson Silva would find it too easy, so I think the only way GSP’s going to win it is by basically just keeping his hands on him and staying in contact with him and just trying to basically out-wrestle him and out-strike him on the ground.
Do you ever think there will be a GSP and BJ Penn 3? I hope not. I think there will, but I really hope not. I’m sick of watching that fight. I don’t think it will go any different or any other way. I think GSP is too big and strong for BJ and BJ hasn’t got the kind of frame to carry that kind of weight to compete with him.
Now if BJ does become dominant and starts another run into the welterweight division, I think everyone thinks he is going to have to work for it now. How do you think BJ would do against other top welterweights? I think he’d do really well. I think technically he’s good enough to catch people even if he’s losing the fight up to that point. You can never count him out. He’s technically good in every area I think a lot of guys in the division he’s be able to out-box. I think his boxing is really underrated. Freddie Roach says he’s one of the best boxers in MMA, so I think he’d be able to out-box a lot of people, and if it went to the ground I think he’d catch a lot of people with you know with whatever you know probably a rear-naked choke because that’s his more favored technique. I think its going to be a guy who’s going to want to strike with him. You know—someone like Thiago Alves or myself—somebody who’d want to stand and trade with him and not take it to the ground. Wrestlers and grapplers I think all fall into the same trap.
I know you have your base camps, but you’re also a nomad when it comes to training at gyms. Which camp would you like to train with that you haven’t already? I’d certainly like to spend some time with Greg Jackson. I think—I’d be very interested to see what he could add to my game and also Mark DellaGrotte. I think I’d like to train with him—with him being predominantly a striking coach as well I think we’d work well together.
You mentioned that you’ve trained with Freddie Roach in the past. Now what’s his take on MMA and it’s stand up? As far as the sport goes, I think he likes it. I think he sees that it’s got a lot of potential. I think he likes that there’s not the politics involved like there is in boxing. I think he really doesn’t like that side of boxing is the impression that I got. As far as the striking goes, I don’t think he’s too impressed. Obviously he’s a master coach in boxing. I think he can see a lot of ways that the striking could be improved. You know when I do pad work with him he was talking about throwing elbows and stuff, so he is open to other forms of striking other than boxing, which is encouraging.
While we’re on the Freddie Roach topic, what do you think of this Manny and Floyd fight? Apparently it’s starting to dissolve. Any thoughts on it? I think it’s an interesting situation. You know Floyd Maywether is within his rights to request a blood test. I don’t think he’s doing it because he genuinely thinks that Manny would fail the test. I think he’s doing it just to kind of delay it and hype the fight a little more so…I think its an interesting situation but I think he’s intentions are just to make more money for himself.
In terms of the MMA scoring system, do you agree with it or do you have any alternate recommendations? : It’s a difficult one because its based on boxing you know and there’s so much more to MMA than there is in boxing. The only way to get around it is to bring more judges in. I know it’s going to be a lot but we’ve got three judges at the moment. I think it would be interesting to divide the areas up in the fight into maybe: striking, wrestling and jujitsu and have people scoring just striking judges and just wrestling judges. I think it would make it a lot more complex but I think more accurate.
Do you feel the heavyweight division should be split in two or remain as is? I certainly think it would be interesting to cut it in half. I think the bigger guys are all looking to dominate—you know guys like Brock Lesnar I think he should be in a category on his own just for his size. I think guys of his size should be separated. Because there are a lot of good heavyweights out there like Cain Velasquez and Shane Carwin is a big guy but he’s still going to be dwarfed by Lesnar. Those guys are solid fighters, but they are never going to reach their potential because they’ve not naturally got that physical size. I think that’s a shame. I think that making a super heavyweight division or even bringing in a cruiserweight division between light heavyweight and heavyweight. I think that’d be a good idea. Yeah. Definitely.
What are your general thoughts on what should happen with the heavyweight belt that is kind of on hiatus right now? Do you think there should be an interim, do you think we should wait or do think they should just strip? I think strip. You know regardless of the situation, obviously Brock’s not well and I hope he does recover and comes back and starts fighting again but you know for the sake of the sport, I think in 6 to 9 months, if the champion’s not fought and defended his belt its got to be taken off of him to keep the sport moving forward. Interim belts I don’t like. I don’t see the point in them, and I don’t like them. I just think we need to get the belt back and keep it moving forward. You know when he’s better he can come back and contend for it straight away
Do you think MMA should have a monopoly like the NBA and other American sports or is it good to have another competitor out there? Obviously competition is good for the fighters because it’s good for our purses. It’s nice to have the option to go somewhere else if you’re not happy where you’re at. It works well for the NFL and for the NHL and for other leagues like that where they’ve got the mainly where all the best people are and there are other leagues, but they are almost kind of like feeders to the main level. I think that would work really well. I think the WEC would be a good feeder if they had the weight classes back and maybe if they drop some of the lower level guys out of the UFC and into the WEC and use that as a feeder show. I think that could work well—if UFC was the top and everything else kind of led to it.
In terms of health coverage and medical bills, what is your situation? Do you have health coverage? Well I’m fortunate enough to live in the UK, so I don’t have to have it. We have socialized healthcare so we don’t have to worry about it. I think something needs sorting out for fighters because there are too many stories of fighters going into fights injured so they can claim that they got injured during the fight. That’s dangerous—guys fighting with cracked bones and torn ligaments and stuff like that and then having to claim after the fight, that’s too dangerous. We need to get rid of that risk.
You expressed in interest, after you are done with your fighting career, in opening your own MMA gym and passing on what you’ve learned through coaching. What would be the name of your gym? I don’t know. I’m not sure. I wouldn’t want to give away—I own the trademark Rough House that’s myself and Paul Daly so that’s something that’s going to be a big part of my future and my theme or whatever. I’ve always quite liked “The Asylum” I think that would be a pretty good gym name.
I just heard on the radio here that Simon Cowell is leaving American Idol and is trying to bring X Factor here. Do you think that would be bigger than American Idol was? I don’t know. I think that guy has enough money and I think he needs to kind of call it a day. I’m just glad that his little protégé didn’t get number one in the UK for Christmas and Rage Against the Machine won instead. I think that he’s got plans for world dominance. I’m not too keen on the guy.
What’s a talent of yours other than fighting? My talent other than fighting? I don’t know. I would probably say…I did art at University so that was a big part of my life and I was kind of planning on kind of making a career out of that as well or maybe becoming a tattoo artist. I would say art and I’ve been in a few bands. I was a lead singer in a few bands.
What’s the nerdiest thing you are in to? I used to do games workshop. You know the Warhammer 40000. I never played the games; I used to paint the figures. That and probably Lego.
I read that you have trained with Shaolin Monks. What is the procedure in order to do that? Do you need permission? Do you just roll up and start training? That took a lot of emailing and phone calls and stuff to set that up. Basically, I watched a TV show about a place in central China where these two Chinese guys had gone and spent three years there training, and I just thought to myself you know I want to try that. I did loads of research and found out I couldn’t go there unless I was Chinese so I might have to find another place in the north of China and I just went down there for two months. It was basically a castle on the side of a mountain and there was a bunch of people from around the world there: a few Americans and Canadians and a couple Australians and some Norwegians guys. It was quite a little collection. There was probably about 30 of us there and then there was a bunch of Shaolin Monks as well. It was just all day every day training about 12 hours a day.
I’m going to give you three super hero powers and I want you to pick one of them: the ability to fly, telekinesis and the ability to breathe under water. Flying without a doubt.
Apparently you play video games. Is that true or did Wikipedia lie to us…again. No. I do. I have an Xbox problem.
You have an Xbox 360? Yeah.
Recently, what’s the best video game you’ve played? I’ve been playing Midnight Club Los Angeles quite a bit. That stuff’s been pretty good. I’m not up-to-date—I don’t keep up with the new games that are coming out, so I tend to play things that everybody else has already played and done with. I finished the first Assassin’s Creed a couple of months ago. That was pretty good as well. And Fallout 3.
In terms of “beef” in MMA, how much of that is authentic in all of MMA? Is a lot of it hype or are a lot of you all friends at the end? I don’t know. I would probably say about 60…65% of it’s real. I think a lot of MMA fighters—they’re not scared of being friendly with the guys that they’re fighting. There are a few guys that know how to hype a fight and do play the game and talk loads of trash but, generally speaking, its one guy that’s playing the game and one guy that’s getting pissed off. You know like the Tito/Shamrock thing—I think Tito was playing the game; Shamrock was genuinely pissed off and same with me and Davis. I was just playing the game and he’s blowing the gasket. I think its usually one sided—one guy that knows what they’re doing and the other that’s getting all crazy.
I’m going to give you three women. They are all fictional. You’ve got to pick one to marry, one to have an affair with and one to throw off a cliff. The three are: Chun Li from Street Fighter, Wonder Woman and the blue chick from the new movie Avatar. The woman in the new movie Avatar, I would throw off a cliff. I would marry Wonder Woman and I would have an affair with Chun Li.
Is there anything you would like to say or any shout outs you would like to make?
Just my website: DanHardyMMA.com
. I’m back on my video blogs now, so I am posting them as regularly as I can. That’s about it.
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