Dan Hardy is going home and starting over.
The native of Nottingham, England, is set to face Carlos Condit in the co-main event at UFC 120, which will emanate from the O2 Arena in London and air in the United States on Spike TV on Saturday, Oct. 16. It will be the first UFC event in the UK since UFC 105 and the first fight for Hardy since his UFC Welterweight Championship bout against Georges St. Pierre in March at UFC 111.
That bout saw Hardy drop a unanimous decision to the man thought by many to be the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, but the Outlaw gained great respect with his performance, refusing to quit, even when caught in painful submission holds by the champion.
This fall, he’ll look to start the process of earning another shot at the gold, and the first step on the road back is a battle with Condit in London.
Hardy—who has trained in California following his loss to GSP to improve his wrestling —recently took time to speak with UltimateFighter.com and Bleacher Report.
Just for starters, it’s got to be exciting to have the chance to fight in London.
Oh yeah. I’ve only fought in London once before [against Rory Markham at UFC 95], and that lasted about a minute, so I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully, I’ll have a longer fight for the fans. It’ll be nice, after I’ve not fought there for so long, to get back and fight in front of the British fans.
This will be the first time in the UK for the UFC since UFC 105, and that was right after the ninth season of the Ultimate Fighter, with the UK team, including some of your teammates at Team Rough House like Ross Pearson and Andre Winner. Could you tell then, at 105, the effect that that season had had on MMA in the UK, or is it something that it’s taken until now to see?
I think it had a big effect. Listening to the crowd when Andre and Ross were walking out, it was quite overwhelming, because that was really their first fight on an actual UFC card. A hell of a lot of people had watched the show and supported the British fighters. It was impressive for me to see how much of an impact the show had had on the UK fans, and I think UFC 120 is going to be even more overwhelming.
What kind of effect did that season have on Rough House itself?
Well, we already had a solid team anyway. We picked up a few guys…Nick Osipczak. We have to turn a lot of guys away…people want to come over and train with us. We’ve got a really small, tight-knit group, with everybody supporting each other. It’s just nice when we fight on the same show.
There’s not a lot of guys from your team who are going to be on this card. Ross is fighting at Fight Night [against Cole Miller], and Nick and Andre are both fighting in Boston next month [against Greg Soto and Nik Lentz, respectively, at UFC 118]. Is it better for you to be, possibly, the only guy from Rough House on the card, or is better for you to have a couple of other guys who are fighting that night, for the atmosphere in the gym?
It’s always nice to have a bunch of guys preparing together. The conditioning sessions and the sparring sessions are just a bit more intense. On the other hand, it’s good, because they’ve got their fights out of the way, so they can focus their training a little more towards me and my opponent. There’s pros and cons. For the conditioning and the hard sparring sessions, it’s a benefit to be on the same card, but for me to be technically better and sharper for my opponent, it’s better to have all the guys’ attention, and not have them focused on their opponents.
Of course, you haven’t been over there lately…how do you like living in California?
I love California. I’m sad I’m going to be leaving on Monday, to be honest, but it’s time for work. I’m looking forward to getting back and seeing my family and my teammates. But southern California, for me, is awesome. There’s no other place like it. There’s so much talent here as far as training goes, so many good guys in different gyms. I just enjoy each day. I wake up looking forward to getting in the gym and training with the guys and seeing what I can learn.
Where have you been training out there?
I’ve been training a lot with 10th Planet and Eddie Bravo, and I’ve also been training a lot at a gym called PKG, near Venice Beach. I’ve met a bunch of guys there: Mac Danzig, Chad George, Jeremy Umphries…just a solid bunch of guys. They all just want to get in there and have a good training session. It’s just a great atmosphere.
Do you ever go over to James Wilks’ place in Laguna Beach? It’d make sense: another UK-to-California transplant.
I haven’t, actually. He’s invited me, but I’ve not had a chance to go. I would like to at some point. He’s been out to Rough House a few times, and he’s a good dude. I’m sure I could learn something off him. I’m going to get over there at some point, I just haven’t had a chance yet.
One of the last things that came out in your fight with Georges St. Pierre was wrestling, and that was something you were going to look to work on. How has living and training in California been for your wrestling?
It’s been awesome. It was the right thing to do, to come out here and start working on my wrestling, and I feel like I’m making some big improvements. Obviously, it’s a long road, and there’s a lot more to do, but I’m confident I’m going to get there, and I’m confident I’m in the right place to keep improving.
Is that something we can expect to see in your fight at UFC 120? Or is it more a matter of something that you’re not going to go out of your way to show but have if you need it?
If the opportunity’s there, I’ll pick him up and slam him; I don’t mind that. I’m going to go back and talk to my coaches, and we’ll get a sensible game plan together. I don’t like to change my game plan just because I’ve got some new things I want to show the world. If I want to get in there and win, I’ve got to do what I’m best at. Having said that, if the opportunity arises, and I feel it’s the right thing to do, I’ll be more than happy to show some of my new skills.
In general, what are you looking for in the fight with Condit?
I think he’s going to be scrappy. He likes to come forward, and he likes to make a fight out of it, regardless. That’s exciting, because I don’t want a guy that’s going to be cagey and try to squeeze out a decision. He’s going to come to fight. He’s going to come to try and win. I’m preparing myself for a brawl. That’s what I’m preparing for and I’m hoping for.
If he looks at it sensibly, he knows where he should take the fight. Ir wouldn’t surprise me if he’s trying to get the fight to the ground. Either way, I think he’s going to be surprised. He’s going surprised with my punching power, and he’s going to be surprised with my technique when we hit the ground.
The punching power was something you didn’t really get a chance to show against GSP. Is that something you kind of miss and are looking forward to having a chance to show again?
No doubt. My fight is the kind of fight where—like the Mike Swick fight or the Marcus Davis fight—the guy comes in and really tries to put it on me. In the GSP fight, I just kind of felt smothered for the whole fight. I didn’t really feel like I had the opportunity to do anything. I’m looking forward to getting back in there and throwing some punches. It’s always to hit somebody with a clean shot and watching him go down. That’s what I’m looking forward to.