LEICESTER, England—The day of reckoning edges ever closer for Dan Hardy.
He has drawn, taken aim and is ready to fire, with victory in his line of sight as steps into the Octagon across from Georges St-Pierre at UFC 111 this Saturday at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
“For me it’s a life changing fight regardless of the result. Obviously I plan on winning, but it doesn’t matter. It’s a huge step forward for me and my career. A win would just take it to the next level,” Hardy says with a sense of pride. “No one could ever take that away from me then. Once you’ve had that world title fight and you’ve won, you’ll always be a former world champion even after you’ve retired. So it’s a life changing fight.”
Hardy seems to have more than just the usual self-belief fighters require when entering the cage. He has that British Bulldog mentality of locking jaws, digging deep and fighting until the end. It is an opportunity he was not expecting to encounter this early in his career yet he’s eager to defend UFC matchmaker Joe Silva’s decision to grant him a title shot over other contenders.
“I think that’s why they are putting me in there because I talk a good game and I believe in myself and that makes anybody dangerous,” says Hardy, 23-6 overall, 4-0 in the UFC. “I’ve got nothing to lose. I can go in there and I’ve got a lot of skills that are going to cause GSP some problems—problems that he’s not faced before.”
Hardy does a good job of seriously answering his critics, proving he can counter argue as well as counter punch. He continues by breaking down the flaws of his adversaries, explaining where they fall short.
“[Thiago] Alves is a great striker but he’s not very mobile. [Jon] Fitch is a great wrestler but he’s not got the stopping power. [Josh] Koscheck’s a dickhead. So you know, it just makes sense for me to fight him.”
Hardy’s provocative nature doesn’t seem to have reached the other side of the Octagon against Georges St. Pierre, who has remained relatively quiet, apart from discussing his post fight options.
“I think its sensible for him to have a back up plan because he’s not going to need to defend his belt again after this fight,” Hardy grins. “He’s talked about 2012 Olympics; he’s talked about going up to middleweight; that’s fine. If he’s underestimating me, that’s a big mistake. If he’s looking past me than that’s fine, it just makes it a little bit easier for me I guess.”
With a relaxed confidence that borders close to cocky bravado, it makes you wonder if Hardy has the audacity to think past the fight in the same way GSP has. Has he considered post-fight holidays with the lady, returning back to the UK for a break, possibly daring to dream of the title of UFC World Welterweight Champion?
“Certainly not,” Hardy is quick to reply, “March 27th is the last day of the World—the last moment of time.”
Focused, primed and in control, Hardy has addressed training issues, gathered his men and answered his critics. As his own personal Judgment Day approaches, The Outlaw steps once more into the breach, with the pride of his country behind him as he shoots his arrow with hopes it strikes its target squarely—the UFC Welterweight Championship.