The mohawk’s still there, but the swagger is a little less pronounced and the trash-talking has gone the way of the phonograph.
Dan (The Outlaw) Hardy knows that when he steps into the eight-sided ring against Anthony (Rumble) Johnson at Ultimate Fight Night 24 on Saturday night at Key Arena in Seattle, he might very well be fighting to stay employed.
“I’ve kind of put myself in a situation and mindset where I’m fighting for my job,” says the 28-year-old Englishman.
“And that’s the worst place that I could possibly be for my opponent because he’s going to get everything that I’ve got and a little bit more. It’s going to make a big difference in the fight. I’m going to prove that I belong in the UFC and I’m staying in the UFC.”
The one-time welterweight contender has suffered back-to-back losses at the fists of Carlos Condit and champ Georges St. Pierre.
Hardy knows a third straight blemish could result in the UFC handing him his walking papers — something the fight club has done with many fighters who fall into three-fight skids.
The 23-8 knockout specialist says he isn’t scared to look back at 2010 — a year in which he didn’t win a single fight.
“It is important to look back sometimes,” says Hardy.
“I’m continuously reminding myself of the mistake I made last year. It is motivating me for this year and I’m just going to make sure that 2011 is completely different.”
Hardy — who suffered his first career knockout loss in the Condit fight — says he knows exactly what went wrong.
“I was just a little overly confident,” says Hardy.
“I didn’t have any respect for the guy, and I just kind of left myself open, not thinking that I’d pay the price. It was a silly mistake and it was regrettable, but I wouldn’t take it back because it’s got me where I’m at right now.”
Hardy’s opponent is also a stand-up fighter with an 8-3 record and an impressive 75% of his wins coming by KO.
Hardy — who spent two months training in a Shaolin temple in China — says
he respects his American opponent.
He says that’s the reason his trademark trash-talking has been absent from this affair.
“We’ve always been friendly and we’ve always got on well,” says Hardy of his 27-year-old opponent.
“So there was no point in fabricating something because the fans just see through that kind of thing.
“And Anthony never bites to that kind of stuff. He’s a pretty chilled guy. So I’ve just invested the energy into the training camp instead and I’ll just do my talking on Saturday night.”