UFC on Versus 5: Dan Hardy won’t get punked again

Maggie Hendricks

MILWAUKEE -- Dan Hardy was in his happy place: a room full of fight fans who all had their eyes on him. At the UFC on Versus 5 open workouts Friday, the British, orange-mohawked fighter bantered with the crowd, taking requests for fighting styles.

"If Chris agrees to do the fight in slow motion, we can do Tai Chi!"

But he has learned his lesson on making fight agreements with opponents. Before his March loss to Anthony Johnson, Hardy and Johnson spoke often about the type of fight they wanted. Even before weigh-ins, as they watched a replay of the exciting bout between Leonard Garcia and the Korean Zombie, Johnson told Hardy, "That's going to be us."

Johnson then wrestled his way to a decision win. Afterwards, Hardy said that he was punked.

"I was annoyed, but I was annoyed with myself. The reason is a few years ago, when I fought on the Cage Warriors show, I did the same thing to someone else. So I guess it's karma. If he had been saying it to the media, and constantly said, "It's gonna be a war," but hadn't said anything to me, I wouldn't have bought into it. But, it was the private messages between us. It was a smart gameplan, and he outsmarted me. I only have myself to blame for that," Hardy said.

With that loss, Hardy fell to 0-3 in his last three fights. Getting the chance for a fourth loss doesn't happen for many fighters, so he knows that it is important to deliver on Sunday night against Chris Lytle.

"It's concerning, because I love my job and I love being part of the UFC. I love seeing the fans and stuff. I like that interaction, and seeing them have such an interest in the UFC and my career. On another note, there's not much I can do about it. I'm three losses down. I can't take those back. I only can learn from them. I'm going into this fight, remembering the mistakes that I've made in my last three fights and training camps, and give it everything I've got. I'm of the mindset now that as long as I give it everything I've got, what else can I do? For right now, I'm comfortable that Sunday is going to be a great day."

Hardy worked both in Las Vegas with Roy Nelson and with his home camp in England to prepare for the bout. He thinks his game will be better integrated because the training of the different MMA disciplines was more integrated. He complimented his opponent's style, but did say that he has more weapons.

"He's got experience, which is gonna make it harder to me to set him up for the easier techniques that will knock him out. Having said that, coming from a Muay Thai background, I feel like I have an extra three weapons that he doesn't have. Boxing is a huge thing, and I use my hands a lot and I like boxing, but when I use it with my hands and kicks and knees, and elbows, that's going to be the deciding factor of the fight."

Hardy asked for a bout with Lytle because he knew he was going to bring a fight. Lytle has six Fight of the Night bonuses under his belt, and knows he can count on Lytle to bring a fight.

"Just the vibe I get off of him, I know he's coming for a fight, and that's all I really want. A fight. A good fight."

He was in a jovial mood for most of the interview, but turned serious when discussing the rioting that has swept over his home country.

"I think it's opportunistic crime. There's some discrepancy over what happened with Mark Duggan, who was shot by the police. People are saying it was unfair that he got shot, other people are saying that he was a drug dealer with a gun. The protests that followed that turned a little bit violent, then it swept across the country, people started thinking, 'I want a new TV and a pair of Nikes.' "

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