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Dan Hardy; The Friendly Face of UFC Europe

Any of the latest generation of young MMA fans might be forgiven for overlooking where some of the faces on their TV screens came from; maybe think PRIDE is something to do with gay rights, maybe that Rampage Jackson drives the A Team van or that Bruce Lee actually fought in the famous Octagon however for British fans they might like to meet the real man behind the face of UFC Europe who was certainly the UK’s fastest rising UFC Star and may still surprise that youthful generation sometime in the Future... I first met Dan around ten years ago whilst attending most of the UK’s top events as the British MMA circuit began to gather pace. Cage Warriors Fighting Championship (CWFC) had a rising star, a youthful, amiable chap from Nottingham who fought out of the legendary Rough House Gym and went on to hold both their Lightweight and Welterweight titles before moving on to the Top of the UK tree and to every MMA Fighters dream the UFC. Dan’s Career blossomed in the Ultimate Fighting Championship with his UFC debut in 2008 (UFC 89) then going on an immediate 4 fight win streak beating well backed fighters such as Mike Swick and Marcus Davies whilst his wry sense of humour and quick wits built him a huge fan base on both sides of the Atlantic. Even a Decision loss for the UFC Welterweight title against the living legend George St Pierre at UFC 111 could still be deemed a major achievement in the worlds toughest sport. However what looked to many like the close of his Fight Career came via the discovery of a second heartbeat which although having no adverse affect on Dan's health or for that matter his rise to the top of the MMA world its discovery meant a new set of challenges for him to make a return to the famous UFC octagon.

Dan-Hardy-EvolutionHooking up with Dan at Liberty Gym Nottingham it was strange to think ten years had passed since meeting on the fledgling UK MMA circuit with us all wearing the first UK MMA brand Evolution Fightwear which was our common link, myself working with the brand which turned out to be a career step in a round about way for me whilst Dan was climbing his way to the top of the UK MMA Scene alongside other UK MMA pioneers whom also went on to reach the UFC such as Mike Bisping, Paul Daley and Brad Pickett. It has was then another brand that gave us a second link later as throughout his career Dan favoured Professional Fighter brand REVGEAR as his kit of choice during his fight camps.

Dan was in to do his weights sets at Liberty so I took the opportunity to join in on the next station and at the same time have a chat about life, training, Martial Arts and the UFC.

"I've just finally moved back here after being in Vegas, I bought a flat a few blocks from here and am still pretty much living out of boxes right now"

On the commentary job its obviously something that was always going to lend itself to the media friendly British fighter who's never been short of an interesting opinion and illustrating well a difference between saying something and having something to say! For the UFC, Dan Hardy obviously fitted perfectly as the face of their European division.

"I'm enjoying the stability of it, with fighting you never know exactly where you will be or when you'll be working whereas this job is very much steady work in this industry, its very different but I'm enjoying it right now"

In between weights sets we moved on to the heart problem that effectively paused his fight career in April 2013 before his fight with Matt Brown known as Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, the MMA rumour mill at the time was abound but the truth more interesting than fiction.

"Its a second heartbeat and something I always had, its never given me a problem before but when the doctors found it they wouldn't pass me to fight. When they find something like that in the States and know they have the UFC behind you they know there is a lot of money behind it and they wanted to open me up just to have a look! I didn't see any need for it"

Dan had trained martial arts since the age of 5 and we spoke about the common bond most fighters have which is the love of martial arts and training methodology.

on BJJ: "I'd never done my belts but when I mentioned I was interested in them I suddenly got sent a bunch of Gi's which was cool lol, but actually I'm enjoying training again and would like to do that" Traditional Systems: "Its such a good foundation but we always mixed up our training and had a great coach with an open mind"

When I asked what he was doing for kicks?

"Training now I don't have to do it for a living lol! I'm building a gym at my house and am enjoying training with the people who I want to train with without the pressure of having to do it"

The conversation moved on but the question I'm sure everyone wants to know is when he's returning to the Octagon; it's probably not fair to publish answers here that are in the hands of the doctors but we'll leave this interview with the optimism and bright outlook of one of the UK's best MMA ambassadors..

"I'm not finished with fighting but when I go back I'm going to enjoy returning with the knowledge Its for my own enjoyment aswell as the fans"

I'm sure of one thing that if Dan Hardy returns to the Octagon in the near future he'll have the whole of the UK MMA Scene behind him!

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