Coming off a loss can make or break some athletes when they go into their next fight. Coming off four might drive lesser men to reconsider their career choices. Dan Hardy, one of the nicest, most interesting people I've ever interviewed, has been paired up with the best guys in the welterweight division, but has had a hard time getting over the hurdle. Saturday night, at UFC 146, he plans to get himself back on Victory Road with a win against a very tough striker in Duane Ludwig. I recently had the chance to get an interview with Dan, to get a feel for what he's got lined up for the future.
*Note: This interview is a long one, so I'm splitting it up in two pieces. Be sure to look for Part II tomorrow.
Stephie Daniels: With there only being a few days left until fight time, is it safe to assume the hard training is over and now it's just about maintaining cardio?
Dan Hardy: Yeah, the sessions are a lot shorter now. We're getting them done in 45 minutes, and we're just doing one a day. I'm resting and dieting and getting a lot of stretching in, things like that.
Stephie Daniels: When you talk about stretching, are you on the yoga bandwagon, or is this just a training standard?
Dan Hardy: You know, I got on it for a little while, but I haven't done any for this training camp. That's something I'm going to look to do, maybe when I get into retirement. It's something I definitely want to do. I know Forrest Griffin is there all the time. He loves it.
Stephie Daniels: You mentioned retirement, so I have to ask if that's something you're thinking about.
Dan Hardy: I'm not planning on retiring any time soon. I just like to plan ahead [laughs]. I just want to stay active. I'm thinking about taking up one of the traditional martial arts. I quite like the idea of Kendo. I'm not sure why that is. Maybe I like the idea of hitting people with sticks.
Stephie Daniels: You and Duane have kept things on very friendly terms leading up to your fight. There isn't a hard rivalry or ugly back story, so I'm wondering what your trigger is to be able to go in there and pound on a guy that you call friend.
Dan Hardy: There's no malicious intent in this fight. Going back to Matt Hughes, if it were him I was facing, I would be going in because I want to hurt the guy. That's a very different fight, though. I'm not going in to hurt Duane Ludwig. I'm going to hurt him, but that's an employment situation. That's an occupational hazard on his part.
We know what we're getting in there to do. He's got a job to do, and I've got a job to do. We both respect the reasons for getting in there. My trigger is that I'm going to win. I want the win. I need the win. I've put in so much work, and I've sacrificed so much over the past three months. I've had a bad streak and now it's time to get past that. Unfortunately for Duane, he's the guy that's going to try and stand in the way of it.
I've got nothing against him. He's positioned himself there. He was offered the fight and accepted it. That, for me, is enough. I don't want to affect the rest of his life by the outcome of the fight, but I have a job to do.
Stephie Daniels: Last week, Matt Hughes put down another wild animal, a bear. What are your thoughts on that, since you have taken such a strong stance in the past about sport hunting?
Dan Hardy: I just can't agree with what he's doing, and I can't find any way for him to justify it. I'm sure there are ways that he's convinced himself that it's ok, but in my opinion, every human being innately has morals. They know what's right and wrong, and whether it's legal or not, it's the wrong thing to do. It's not illegal to sleep with your best friend's wife, but if you do it, you're an asshole.
I don't think that humans are in any way elevated above the other species that are on the planet. For somebody to think it's ok to go out and shoot one of them, because it's not illegal, I just don't make the connection. If it's illegal to shoot human beings, it should be illegal to shoot animals, as well.
Now, as far as hunting for food goes, that's a different thing. If I needed to kill an animal for food, I would. To go out there and shoot them for his own entertainment...I mean, he's not going out there and having bear sandwiches for lunch off his kill, that's for sure.
The fact that he had to go out and find it tells me that it wasn't an over population issue. The same situation happened with the bobcat. He had to go in search for the damned thing before he could kill it. It's not like it was near his house. If he were standing next to it in his back yard, that might be a different situation, but I still wouldn't be proud of that.
The argument of population control, who's controlling the population of human beings? We're spreading right across the planet, and we're moving right into these animals' habitat. For us to say it's population control because they're in our space, it's just ignorant to think that it belongs to us. I think that humans, for the most part, are the bacteria that are going to eat away at the planet until we're extinct. I think the rest of the species on the planet are going to breathe a sigh of relief when we are extinct.
Out of all the species, we're the only one that has evolved enough to have a set of morals and be able to co-exist with the other species, and people like Matt Hughes, reading from his bible, and interpreting however he wants, going out there and shooting animals for fun, it's just ignorant and calculated. I just can't agree with him.
People say, 'Oh, you're just calling out an aging welterweight. He was the champion, and he's done more than you.' It's not about mixed martial arts. I don't like Brock Lesnar for his ethics on hunting, either. I'm not saying these things about Matt Hughes because I want to fight him. I mean, if the opportunity was there, I would, but it's a completely different subject. I respect him as a champion, but that doesn't mean he's not an asshole as a person. He's proven that he is.
Stephie Daniels: You've been very forthright with your opinions about the way fans react to when a fighter has a bad day in the cage or in life. What are your thoughts on the fan reaction to Jon Jones' current situation?
Dan Hardy: People don't realize that there are 365 days a year, and most fighters work on most of those days. We fight on two or three of them, so that's a very small percentage of the year to rely on having a good day. Nobody know the mistakes more than the person that made them. The last thing you need are 100 guys on Twitter that tweet your flaws for a living and telling you what you need to be doing as a professional athlete. I've got nothing against those people, but what they do is them, and we do is us. After a bad loss, you don't want to hear it.
As far as Jon Jones, he's in a very high position and he made a bad call. It's just one of those things. People make mistakes, and fortunately for those people, they're not in the spotlight, so they can get away with it, relatively unnoticed. Unfortunately, Jon Jones doesn't have that luxury. What a waste of a Bentley, in my opinion. Not that I would drive one, but it's still a nice car. It was an expensive bad call. I'm sure he regrets it, and I hope it humbles him a little bit, so he doesn't think he's invincible.
Part II of this interview will be available at 11 am EST tomorrow.
Follow Dan Via his Twitter, @DanHardyMMA