by FIGHT! contributor Thomas McCullough
Dan Hardy can count on massive support from British fight fans when he enters the Octagon on Nov. 14. Regarded as one of the best UK MMA fighters, “The Outlaw” has held titles in the Cage Warriors and UK Storm promotions. On Saturday, Hardy will face Mike Swick and the winner will likely get a crack at a title in the biggest promotion of them all.
“I’m in Nottingham, UK, and its one of the best training camps I’ve ever had,” said Hardy. “I’m excited to get the fight started so people can see how hard I’ve trained.” Hardy was initially set to fight Dong Hyun Kim but the South Korean fighter had to withdraw due to injury. On hearing that his replacement was Mike Swick, he said, “I was excited. I was only one week into opponent specific training, so changing wasn’t a big deal. Mike is a better fight for me anyway, more at stake and more exciting for the fans.”
Whether the fact that the winner is likely next in line for welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre adds any extra pressure, Hardy said, “Not at all. I have to take it one at a time, so I’m not thinking too much about that yet. Once Swick is out of the way, then I can start thinking of about whoever is next. If GSP is next, cool, if not, I will go through whoever else I need to.”
Hardy started learning martial arts from age 6, earning a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and a purple belt in jiu-jitsu from Eddie Bravo. He earned his way to the Ultimate Fighting Championship and debuted at UFC 89, where he defeated Akihiro Gono. It was however, his split decision victory against Marcus Davis at UFC 99 that made the MMA world take notice of Hardy.
Hardy spent the last few years training in Los Angeles but he relishes the chance to fight on familiar soil. “The support is always great, the British fans are fanatical and it’s nice to have so many people believe in you,” he said. “It makes you feel invincible going into the fight and that confidence shows in your performance.”
Check back tomorrow for a first-hand account of Dan Hardy’s travels to China.