Written by Maz Seyf
With Marcus "The Irish Hand Grenade" Davis squarely in his crosshairs, Britain’s charismatic welterweight Dan Hardy took time out from his busy prefight schedule to field 10 questions from MMAMadness.com.
How do you feel going into UFC 99? Tell us a bit about your camp.
Camp’s been really good, six weeks in L.A, one week doing a press tour in Germany, and then back at Team Rough House to finish up. It’s been a real solid camp, plenty of Southpaws so it’s all good.
Davis has beaten three Brits in his last six fights. What will a win at UFC 99 do for Dan Hardy?
It will prove that I’m up there, that I’m not just here to make up the numbers. I think Davis is seen as a bit of a gatekeeper to the top guys in the division, and I want to start chipping away at those top guys.
Much has been made of the fact that Davis is well supported in the UK and Ireland (despite being American). Lyoto Machida was cheered against Evans last month, despite being from Brazil. Do national allegiances matter less in MMA (than other sports)? If so, why do you think this might be the case?
I noticed that actually as well. I think people definitely root for a fighter based on their style or attitude rather than where they are from. Different people appreciate different approaches and attitudes, but I’m not sure why that is. I’ve had support from all over. I’ve had messages from Oklahoma and Canada just this morning. I think to different people, different attitudes appeal, maybe?
You spoke in the past about the aesthetic appeal of fighting, and we know about your academic Arts background. How does this influence your approach to fighting? Are you more creative? Cerebral? Patient?
All three of those hopefully. I’m definitely a cerebral fighter. I don’t tend to get drawn in. I like to think things through, put pressure on my opponents and look for openings, to use my footwork to move around the octagon.
What one quality does an aspiring young fighter need above all others?
Difficult to say just the one. But I guess for me it’s work ethic. I’m not the most athletically gifted, but it’s that high work rate. I’ll put in the effort 24 hours a day. It’s also about the diet, everything being right.
Second, I guess would be heart. But you can’t teach that. It’s fight or flight in there. When you take that shot are you going to crumble, or are you gonna suck it up and fire back with something? A lot of guys find that out when they get in there, and realise it’s not for them. But you can’t teach it, you’ve either got it or you haven’t.
You’ve been based in L.A for a portion of your latest training camp. What did you miss most about the UK?
It’s funny, I feel more English than ever when I’m not in England. I miss all sorts, I miss hearing English accents. Actually, I miss English comedy. American comedy is always like, setup-line, then punchline, and all that canned laughter to tell you when to laugh.
I like the animated stuff, stuff like Family Guy, but I missed the English stuff like The Office (with Rick Gervais), you know. Food-wise, there’s lots of stuff you can’t get here. But I miss fish and chips, not that I’d be allowed any at the moment what with the dieting and that. (laughs)
We know a bit about your love of hardcore, punk, ska etc. What gets you up for training? Any recommendations for the fans?
I’ve got a bit of Pantera going at the moment actually, Vulgar Display of Power. A bit of Rage Against the Machine is always good, too.
What about your entrance music for Germany?
It’s staying the same, "England Belongs to Me." Too many fans have requested it now, so I won’t be changing it.
Who will be the UK’s first UFC champion?
Well I think of course Bisping has the best chance. I’m confident he’ll beat Henderson. It’ll be a really tough fight but I think he’ll do it. Anderson Silva, wow, I mean he’s gonna be a tough task for anyone. But we don’t know what’s going on with him, whether he’s gonna be fighting, is he retiring and all that.
But Michael definitely has a good chance. Behind Bisping, and I hate to say this, but it’s probably me. I think Terry Etim at some point. He needs to get more comfortable, a bit more experience but I think he’ll be right there in the mix soon.
Any chance of a couple of quick predictions...?
Hardy vs. Davis?
I think I’ll get him with a late second round KO. It’ll take the first round to feel him out. It’ll be a TKO maybe, not like Markham. Davis is a tough guy, he can defiantly take a shot. TKO late in the second.
Wanderlei Silva vs. Rich Franklin?
Franklin by TKO, maybe late in the first? Be interesting to see how Wanderlei looks, the cut might give him a new lease life. I don’t know.
Thiago Alves vs. Georges St. Pierre?
I think it depends on Alves’ takedown defence. I don’t think GSP will want to stand there and bang with him. It’s a tough one, I’ll go with GSP by unanimous decision.
We know you were a big Turtles fan growing up. So which Ninja Turtle was your favourite as a kid?
(Laughs) Raphael. It used be Michelangelo, but as I got older I liked Raphael. I liked his attitude to be the leader and take people on. I guess I've kinda taken on that role at (Team) Rough House a bit. Raphael, he’d definitely do the best in the octagon.
Maz Seyf is a writer for MMAMadness.com and Setana Sports in the UK. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.