Hardy Headed for U.S. in 08
One of the U.K.'s hottest prospects is an angry man.
Dan "The Outlaw" Hardy was seen by many as an underdog when he
traveled to the land of the rising sun for the Cage Force
tournament. He silenced those detractors by smashing through
current welterweight King of Pancrase Daizo Ishige (Pictures) and then Hidetaka Monma (Pictures) to reach the Dec. 1 final.
However, after defending well in the first round against noted fast
Yoshida (Pictures), Hardy's dream collapsed around
him. He was disqualified for catching the Japanese fighter with an
unintentional low blow only four seconds into the second round.
As he looked back on the fight, Hardy's frustration was more than
"I threw a kick off my right leg to the inside of his right leg,
and as I threw it, he ran forward and that's why I caught him with
the low blow," Hardy said. "It wasn't a misjudged kick; it was the
fact that he was moving forward as I threw it."
Although he accepted that the decision was in line with Cage
Force's peculiar rules, Hardy returned to his hometown of
Nottingham brimming over with frustration at what he considered an
overly harsh ruling. Jumping at the chance to put the fight behind
him, "The Outlaw" proceeded to take out his frustration in a
hastily arranged bout with Manuel Garcia (Manuel Garcia'
class='LinkSilver'>Pictures) at a Cage Warriors show the
"I had trained so hard for the Yoshida fight," Hardy said. "I knew
no matter who I was put in there against, that I'd be able to deal
Hardy surely did deal with the Spaniard. He held off a determined
takedown attempt to bang in a spiteful knee to his crouching
opponent's head before dispatching Garcia with heavy punches on the
ground midway through the first round.
"I had no idea that he wasn't kneeling," Hardy said of delivering
the knee that effectively sealed the contest. "That's one of the
benefits of having a good corner team because I think that knee
changed the fight. Soon as that landed, I think he changed his mind
and didn't want to be in there."
As an explanation for his cool demeanor and vastly improved
takedown defense in the contest, Hardy cited his various extended
training camps in the United States. The sessions added layers of
skill to his wrestling game, as he sparred with the likes of
Yves Edwards (Pictures), Quinton Jackson (Pictures), Jason Miller (Jason Miller'
class='LinkSilver'>Pictures) and Mac Danzig (Pictures).
"I also went over to Team Quest as well, the new one in California,
and worked with Dan
Henderson (Pictures) and Sokoudjou and all the other
Team Quest guys," Hardy said. "It was a really good experience. I
got a lot of input from those guys as far as wrestling goes."
After training with some of the world's best fighters and
delivering a beating to some of Japan's finest talent in 2007,
Hardy has no doubt where his future lies.
"Going into the tournament in Japan, I knew it was a risk because
the first round I had the King of Pancrase and everybody wrote me
off," he said. "Nobody thought I was going to win that, apart from
myself, and I proved everybody wrong. From that, I've got the
confidence to take bigger challenges and step up in competition
Hardy also plans on moving to Los Angeles, where he spent five
months last year.
"I'm not planning on spending a lot of time in the U.K. this year,"
he said. "I'd like to fight a bit more in the U.S. now. It's better
for sponsorship and just exposure basically. I go where the best
Hell-bent on causing havoc in the United States, "The Outlaw"
concluded with a warning for the welterweight division: "I've got
the speed and explosiveness. When I land a high kick cleanly, they
fall over, asleep. I can compete with the top guys. I beat a couple
of guys that were ranked and I know now that there's nothing
stopping me from getting to where I want to be."
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