From 2008-2010, Dan Hardy was one of the most polarizing figures in the welterweight division. He was becoming an international star constantly improving after every fight. Fans labeled him as brash and flamboyant, who knew how to get under his opponent’s skin before picking them apart with his boxing.
Even in defeat to Georges St-Pierre at UFC 111, fans were in awe of him. His willingness to continue to fight, even when nearly having his arm broken by an arm-bar attempt helped his stock continue to grow. Unfortunately, three more consecutive losses and Hardy had become on the receiving end of harsh criticism. Critics wanted him gone and even he admitted that he deserved to be cut over certain fighters. UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta made the decision to keep Hardy and he re-paid them by winning his next two fights in convincing fashion
Now Hardy has been placed, as a color commentator for the UFC Fight Pass events. After being diagnosed with a syndrome called Wolff-Parkinson-White, the UFC hasn’t allowed him to compete despite Hardy stating that he never felt any negative effects from it. He’s put the issue to the side for now and has begun doing something that he’s always embraced, which is calling fights.
I talked to Hardy yesterday about being a commentator, the upcoming Fight Night event, his current status outside the cage, and the landscape of the welterweight division.
Who are some commentators that have influenced you, whether they are in a play by play or color commentator role?
I’m really a big fan of Jon Anik. His style is very crisp and always makes you wary of what’s going on. I’ve also admired his ability to ask great questions in post-fight interviews as well. I’ve been placed in that role as well, so I’m trying to pick tidbits on what he does so well.
Joe Rogan has obviously been a major influence for doing it so long. His passion and knowledge is incredible. Brian Stann is someone that has been praised by many people, so I’ve started listening to him more. We are somewhat alike, as soft-spoken people. I try to watch as much as I can because I’m a student of the game. This is something I really enjoy doing so I want to keep learning and see how I can integrate certain things into my style.
Were there any jitters during your first night of calling the fights?
I was fine, once the event started. The one issue for me was the lack of rehearsal time. John Gooden and I had to rush through the pre tapes. Apparently there was a Beyonce concert the night before, so we didn’t have much time in the arena before the event started. Once the fights began, I felt comfortable and everything else was straightforward. It was a really enjoyable first experience.
Now you will be back in the booth this Friday calling UFC Fight Night: Nogueira vs. Nelson. You’ve trained with Nelson and have cornered him before, so you know him better than most people. Everyone knows about his iron chin and tremendous heart, but what stands out the most about him to you?
His durability has always blown me away. He never seems to get rattled and constantly pushes forward. If you notice, he is much more active in taking fights on a yearly basis than most heavyweights. His over hand right is just deadly. It reminds me of Dan Henderson and his right hook, where he just knows how to time it perfectly.
Similar to the H-Bomb, it’s so beautiful when that overhand right connects because you know the fight is most likely over. I’ve been hit with it a few times in training and it’s tough to recover from. Another thing that I’ve noticed with Roy is that he never gets discouraged. You see many fighters get frustrated when things aren’t going their way. Roy stays confident and keeps on looking for openings to unleash.
Speaking of this Fight Night event, what are some other fights that stand out to you?
I’m really happy that John Howard is back. To me, he should have never been cut. His explosiveness and power has always really impressed me. He’ll be going up against Ryan LaFlare, who is a rising star. LaFlare shows great range and really has a lot of tools in his arsenal. That should be an excellent fight in a stacked welterweight division.
I can’t wait to see what Beneil Dariush does. It caught me by surprise how quickly he dropped Charlie Brenneman and beat him so quickly. We’ve seen in the past how Brenneman can smother his opponents and control them on the ground. Beneil caught him quickly and perfectly in an instant. His fight against Ramsey Nijem should be intriguing.
You have always been linked with fellow English fighter Michael Bisping. Both of you are the most popular fighters to come out of England. He’s got a massive fight coming up against Tim Kennedy. Would you like to make a prediction or break the match-up down?
It’s a bit too early for me to make a prediction, especially since this is a really tough fight. I’ve always rated Tim Kennedy highly as a fighter. Even though he hasn’t been in the UFC long, he faced many top-level opponents in Strikeforce. This is a really tough fight for Bisping, where I don’t think he’s going to overwhelm his opponent as the fight goes on like we’ve seen him do in the past. Kennedy is well rounded, technical, and always comes in great shape.
Bisping has always reminded me of Wanderlei Silva, where he’s just a natural at fighting. He comes in and is ready to get down to business. While he relies more on point-fighting compared to Silva, who looks to take your head off, their demeanor’s are similar to me. He can be very emotional, as we’ve see in the past. It’s clear that both fighters have been very vocal in their dislike for one another. If Bisping can keep his emotions in check and the fight goes into the later rounds, his chances improve greatly. That being said, this is an extremely hard fight to come back from following a long layoff.
You still look to be in tremendous shape from what I’ve seen on various social media sites. I know you do yoga on a consistent basis, but what else are you doing that has kept you fit?
Nutrition has been a key for me. I’ve really started to dedicate myself and the results are great. I’m walking around 178 pounds feeling comfortable. Conditioning has become a major part of my exercise routine. I like to keep a certain balance to my body. It helps me stay quick and athletic during my time off from fighting.
When I was fighting, I have these long layoffs in between fights and I’d eat heavy. It wasn’t a good balance and it forced me to really focus on cutting weight for my fights. Now I have kept my weight low, so I can feel better overall as a person. Now I have no more restrictions in my exercise routine. I’m at a comfortable weight, to where I don’t have to focus on one particular thing.
Now as a commentator, you will be mostly calling fights in Europe and Asia. Will you now be moving back to England or will you still stay in America?
I live out of a suitcase to be honest. While I do have an apartment in Las Vegas, I’m constantly traveling. Now with this job, I’ll be spending a lot more time in Europe specifically England. It’s always nice to see my family and friends there. I can’t put a label on where exactly is my home though. I’m constantly moving, which is fine for me.
Many people believe that the welterweight division is the best division in the UFC. I know you are always keeping a close eye out on that division. Who do you think poses the biggest threat to Johny Hendricks? Also who else stands out to you in the division?
The choices are endless, but Robbie Lawler has to be the biggest threat. If he hasn’t already, I’m sure he’ll be kicking himself after re-watching the fight. He had all the momentum going into the fifth round and he let it slip away near the end. Still it was a tremendous performance and my money would be on him to defeat Hendricks out of anyone in the division.
Rory MacDonald has all the potential in the world. You can’t rule him out. The best has yet to come with him. Even though he’s coming off two losses, Demian Maia can’t be counted out. His grappling and the way he can control his opponent on the ground is unbelievable. I know he’ll be out for a while, but Carlos Condit nearly beat Hendricks as well.
His unorthodox style is really enjoyable to watch. The way he goes from kicking to the body followed by transitioning to the head is remarkable. You never know what he’s going to do next. It makes you realize that he is one move away from possibly finishing the fight, even when he’s losing on the score cards. We saw him do that against GSP and also against Rory, where he finished the job after falling two rounds behind to him.
Even though the fight was about three-and-half years ago, some fighters believe in holding onto grudges. Do you feel any resentment towards Condit? You criticized him heavily for calling you out at the time.
I always respected his ability. He’s always proven to be dangerous and I really admire his style. When he knocked me out, it was a great learning experience. It leveled me out as a fighter. At the time, all that mattered to me was wins and losses. That fight made me realize about my journey as a fighter and how things can change in an instant. I have nothing but respect for Carlos. When he fights, I always want to watch. My only resentment towards him is that now I’m one of the main features on his highlight reel.
Are there any welterweights out there that you are watching now and wish you can either fight against or train with?
That title fight really got me going. Hendricks and Lawler striking with no disregard. It was so enjoyable to watch, as it was my style of fighting. That division has so much talent as a whole. With GSP leaving, the competition to get that title shot has become so intriguing. We’ve seen in the past how George will shoot in and double leg his opponents to the ground. Then he’d control them and most likely dominate them for five rounds on most occasions.
We didn’t really get to see stand-up battles, when he fought. It was refreshing to see that in a welterweight title fight, where both guys were looking to knock each other out. There are many fighters that I’d love to train with because there is so much talent. I always enjoy learning new things from training with different fighters. If I have to choose anyone specifically to fight, it would have to be Matt Brown. I was training for that fight last year and still want to get that closure. He’s done a great job in knocking all his opponents out to make himself into a viable contender.
You were mentioned by Urijah Faber, as a possible replacement for Duane Ludwig in coaching Team Alpha Male. Have you given that any serious consideration?
I’ve not spoken to anyone from that camp about coaching them specifically. They are really good friends of mine. Ludwig did an excellent job coaching them and making their younger fighters into better strikers. I’m flattered that Urijah mentioned me as a possible replacement.
I’ll have to give it more thought, but I certainly wouldn’t say no in working with them. I’m not sure if I can fully commit to coaching them with my new job being based in Europe and Asia. California is one of my favorite places to be in though, so I definitely would love going there.