Dan Hardy interview
UFC brings its noise to Nottingham later this month, with local boy Dan Hardy facing Amir Sadollah. Someone, ‘The Outlaw’ tells Sport, is gonna get hurt
Last time we spoke, you’d just beaten Duane ’Bang’ Ludwig in UFC 146 to end a four-fight losing streak. You said you were off to a monastery to find yourself, or something…
“No, not quite. I went off to a jungle retreat in Peru for a couple of weeks, just to recover and refocus.“
Did it work? Are you feeling refocused now?
“It did work and I am, yeah. I feel very good and very ready for Nottingham.“
Does fighting back in your hometown mean as much as people assume it must?
“It does actually, yeah. It means a lot to be able to go home and show the people I know and the people who’ve followed my career what I can do and where I’m at right now. To be honest, I never thought the UFC would come to Nottingham, because the arenas aren’t quite as big as UFC arenas usually are. So the fact we’re going there was surprising, but in the best way possible. The fact I can walk from my apartment to the arena and I can sleep in my own bed the night before the fight... they’re just little things, but they genuinely do make a positive difference when you’re preparing. It takes a lot of the pressure and the stress away.“
Is it fair to say the location makes precisely no difference once the bell tolls?
“Yeah, it doesn’t make any difference at all. Before and afterwards I’ll drink it all in, but once the bell tolls it’s just about what happens inside the octagon and I could be anywhere in the world. When it starts, I’ll be in fight mode – with a one-track mind. I close out the noise and I’ll be entirely focused on what’s happening inside that octagon for the next five minutes. If I’m not, I’ll lose.“
Is there any danger the emotion of the occasion could affect your focus?
“No, I think if anything it will actually sharpen my focus and make me more aware of why I’m there. I know that the next few minutes will be remembered forever – that focuses the mind.“
Right, the key question. How will it end against Sadollah?
“I’ll knock him out.“
Definitely? He looks pretty, erm, rugged.
“Amir Sadollah is a tough guy, very durable. He likes to stand and trade [punches], but if he does that then I’ll knock him out. Because of my background as a striker, I always see my fights ending the same way – and I don’t see any reason why this will be any different.“
And if he takes it to the floor?
“If he does that, I’ll either beat him up or get the submission. Where the fight ends is up to him. How it ends I will dictate, because I’m a little bit quicker, a little bit more experienced and I have a few more things in my favour.“
Have you looked any further ahead than this fight, or do you abide by the old football cliché of taking one game at a time?
“It’s a boring answer, but you can’t afford to look beyond your fight because you start losing focus on the fight and that’s dangerous. I’m focused on this fight. After that, who knows?“
Finally, a prediction. A KO, but when?
“I’m thinking early second. First round I’ll get a feel for my shots and wear him down a bit. Then, early second, I’ll end it.“
The UFC returns to the UK at the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham on September 29. Tickets are available from ufc.com