Betfair Big Interview: Dan 'The Outlaw' Hardy


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Dec 2, 2008
Betfair Big Interview: Dan 'The Outlaw' Hardy

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It's UFC 93 this week and we (Betfair Blog) thought we'd find out about Ultimate Fighting - so we went to Nottingham to see Dan "The Outlaw" Hardy who at 26 is one of the first British fighters making a name for himself among the American hard men...

First of all tell us how you got into cage fighting
I was born in the era when the Ninja Turtles were the popular thing at school, and everybody was running around the playground kicking each other. My parents decided I should probably do something to channel that, instead of just getting into fights, so they took me to Taekwondo classes and that's where I started.

What happened next?
I spent 11 or 12 years doing traditional martial arts, but it was then a natural progression as Taekwondo became an Olympic sport. It lost its appeal to me because it started to be more like a points system and less of a fight. It didn't suit me because I wasn't fast enough to compete with the guys, so I started trying different things like kick boxing. I got settled on mixed martial arts because it's basically just a fight, more trying to knock the other person out and more suited to my style.

Where does all that aggression come from? You're not from a rough background are you? You studied painting at college, didn't you?
No, I'm not from a rough background, not at all, it's just for want of competition, really. I felt Taekwondo became more like a game of tag, and it didn't really interest me. I've always liked contact sports, I played rugby at school and I'm a big fan of watching NFL and ice hockey. Contact sports always appealed to me, and I just found fighting a natural thing. It's actually not so much the aggression, it's more being able to outdo another person in hand-to-hand combat that appealed to me. I don't want to actually hurt anybody.

So UFC is actually an intellectual sport?
It is to me. People say it's similar to a game of chess, apart from you are putting your body on the line instead of the pieces, and that appeals to me. I like the idea of going in there with hardly any padding and just my hands and my feet to defend myself.

We just think it's scary! Describe your first time in the cage.
The problem with the first time was that I was so excited and so overly aggressive that I actually tired myself out and ran out of gas! I'd been helping my team-mate train for a year for his fight, and finally thought it was time to have a go myself. It was in Bracknell and I was fighting an experienced guy. I was confident I could beat him and I threw everything at him for two rounds, and at the end of the second I made a mistake and he caught me in a choke and I lost. That was a big learning experience.

Your first UFC fight went much better. You won that against Akihiro Gono...

I had 25 fights under my belt by then so I'd kind of worked out the kinks a little bit! It was a tough fight but experience and a good game plan prevailed.

UFC is a different level to everything before though...
Yeah, it was brilliant. I'd fought in a lot of shows in Nottingham before, the Cage Warrior shows, where there's about 3,000 people. But by the time I got in the ring some people had sort of got tired, and others were sitting down, and I got maybe 40 or 50 chanting for me. When I came out for UFC and saw 12 or 13 thousand in there and everybody on my side because I was fighting a foreign opponent, it was just insane. I was walking around seeing flags with my name on, people were coming up wanting photos with them, it was just a fantastic experience.

We know the sport's getting more and more popular. We saw Michael Bisping was voted more cool than James Bond in a recent magazine poll.
I actually made number 42 in that list which quite surprised me!

Surprised us too. We're being brave and if you're in fighting mood might regret it but we weren't sure you did cool with that hair!

(Laughs) Don't worry. Actually I thought it was great Michael got that recognition. He's done a lot for the sport in this country, going over to America and basically stepping into the lions den and winning a tournament. He did fantastically and has done a lot in UFC as well.

Do you get recognised when you're out and about then?
At the moment I'm at the stage where people kind of point as I walk past and don't really approach me. It's getting more that people come up and congratulate me and say they've enjoyed my fights, and to me that's one of the biggest benefits for competing at this level. People will give you that recognition for putting the hard work in. I've been doing this for years and it's just nice people recognise that.

Boxing is going through a boom in this country because of people like Ricky Hatton and Joe Calzaghe. Are there kids queuing up in gyms to be UFC fighters too?
Definitely, and that's the generation which will pioneer the sport. They are starting straight away with mixed martial arts, and not with the traditional ones, so the sport will only get bigger and better. Some of the kids coming through. . . Wow - I train a lot of times in the US and some of the kids there are only six or seven but have a depth of knowledge already. The thing is at that age it's actually quite a safe sport because there's a lot of grappling and wrestling involved, and kids don't tend to get injured too much doing that.

Is it the same as boxing for keeping rough kids out of trouble?
I think so. When I was a young kid I had loads of energy, and channelling that into martial arts was a great thing for my parents to do. If I'd not done that I could have got myself into some trouble later in life. I had something to focus on and a way of gaining respect without fighting in the streets. I got the medals, the recognition, and learned there's a lot more benefit to fighting in a sport than fighting in the street. It's good to make other kids realise that.

February 21 is your next fight against Rory Markham. How's the preparation going?

Great - I started dieting yesterday because I've got a few pounds to lose but my training camp is going really well. I started preparing before Christmas, got my injuries taken care of, went to see the chiropractor, and just worked on all the technical stuff that I wanted to improve.

It's at the O2 Arena and all but sold out...

Pretty much. It's a great venue. I went to UFC 85 and the atmosphere was awesome. I can't wait to be there, I'm so excited about fighting in front of that crowd.

It's UFC 93 on Saturday night...
I'll definitely be watching that. In fact this is where I have to do the plug that it's exclusively live on Setanta and you can go to or call 0871 200 7494 to subscribe!

Tell us about Rich Franklin against Dan Henderson - that's the big fight of the night.
That's such a tough one to call because they are both so talented. Rich Franklin has got the advantage with the stand up and jujitsu, but Dan Henderson is just a brawler with great wrestling so I'd pick him to win that - but it will be a great fight to watch

Thanks for your time and we've a free £50 bet for your favourite charity.
That can go to the Bulwell Hall club in Nottingham where they get kids off the streets and learning organised fighting. And I'll back Mark Coleman to beat Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua. I think Shogun has changed too much since his last fight, he's opened his own gym and stuff like that, and although Mark Coleman is getting on a bit at 43 he looks really focused.

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New member
Apr 21, 2002
Thanks for posting the interview.

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