LEICESTER, England—Dan Hardy is about to head into a strength training session with coach Ollie Richardson at the high tech training facilities of the World class Rugby Team, the Leicester Tigers.
For the past four weeks, Hardy has been constantly filmed for UFC Countdown, a sure sign of how far the Brit has come in his UFC career, maybe once dreaming of these moments of fame but now feeling their burden.
Richardson is the conditioning expert for all the Merry Men of Roughhouse, including Paul “Semtex” Daley, “Judo” Jim Wallhead and Andre Winner. Eight years of training sees them refer to each other as brothers-in-arms that would defend each other in a heartbeat should the need arise. Hardy, probably the biggest target of ridicule in the group, has earned the nickname “Hollywood Outlaw” due to him partly re-locating to Los Angeles, and apparently living the “Hollywood lifestyle.”
“I think the pinnacle of his Hollywood behavior is refusing to do a neck bridge because he’d got hairspray on his Mohawk,” says Richardson. “He also has so much free training kit he smells like new t-shirts, but at least it blocks the smell of fish oils that leaks from his body.”
Hardy arrives in America for a fight for the first time since a guillotine choke loss to Pat Healy in 2004. He’s not worried foreign territory will be hostile.
“I’m hoping to be quite well received in New Jersey. They are quite a blue-collar working class state,” says Hardy. “All the people that live there are quite solid and down to earth and hard working and I think GSP will be too metro sexual for them. You know with his fake tan and his manicures.”
Hardy’s been booed and cheered, so he’s not too bothered however it turns out.
Should the gods favor Hardy in this momentous fight, he’s sure to have the majority of his fights Stateside in the future, yet interestingly he still maintains that he would continue to return home for the bulk of his training.
“I have a solid team here and it’s taken years to build people, get the right people around me,” Hardy says as Richardson shouts from the end of the room. “You’ll never leave me!” Hardy continues, “And obviously I’ve got knob head at the end of the table,” pointing at Richardson.
“Team Roughhouse, I would bring them over to the U.S. if I felt I wanted to do a camp over there as I still want the same guys around me, and I’ve just bought a place over here so I’m kind of settled.”
With his cocky bravado and cheeky smile, it’s easy to see why Hardy has the reputation of the arrogant Brit with the big hair and a bigger mouth. Yet he’s more boy next door than demanding diva contrary to what his persona suggests. He has healthy motivations and pride in his roots.
Surely if any real sign of the Hollywood syndrome began creeping in, the Roughhouse boys would be more than willing to verbally and physically beat that out of him.
Go here to read part one.