By Richard Hunter, UFC Blogger | CBSDFW.COM
ufc UFC Fan Favorite Dan Hardy Returns To Cage On Fuel TV

Dan “The Outlaw” Hardy and Richard Hunter (Photo courtesy R. Hunter)

DALLAS (105.3 THE FAN) – UFC welterweight Dan “The Outlaw” Hardy is one of the most popular and eccentric fighters in the organization.  He’s a former art student, a well read political and social activist, and an avid music fan.  As a member of society Dan Hardy has depth, and as a a professional athlete, he’s as deep as it gets.

He’s never held the 170 pound title, although in 2010 he challenged champion Georges St-Pierre, taking him the distance in a five round twenty-five minute affair that had the champ shaking his head at Hardy’s unwillingness to tap out to an armbar.  After that loss, he lost three more straight in a frustrating two year span that had Hardy questioning his continuing in the sport.  Amazingly, reaction from his loyal fans and from the owner of The UFC himself amounted to a virtual mandate for him to remain and get back on the winning track.  In May of this year, Hardy scored a “knockout of the night” victory over Duane “Bang” Ludwig, and immediately afterwards breathed a visible sigh of relief that he told me in the locker room was “two years in the making”.

Tomorrow in his hometown of Nottingham, England, Hardy will return to The UFC octagon.  The fight airs for free at 3pm CT on Fuel TV.  Hardy will now look to continue a streak rather than snap one, as he looks to pick up his second straight victory when he faces former “Ultimate Fighter” winner Amir Sadollah.

Hardy recently invited me into his training camp to watch him spar (flyweight challenger Joe Benavidez was also in the camp preparing for his title shot against Demetrious Johnson), and afterwards we sat down on the mats for a lengthy interview that covered a wide range of subjects, from MMA to social activism and responsibility.  You can watch the entire interview here:

Full disclosure: Dan Hardy is a good friend of mine.  We hang out, our girls are friends as well, and we talk about a lot of stuff.  As long as I’ve worked in sports media, I’ve made very few personal friendships with professional athletes.  I’ve met plenty of nice people, but we rarely have much in common.  Even in the world of mixed martial arts, which is a sport that I actually marginally train in, I don’t often find fighters who want to transition a conversation with me from mma to politics, and from literature to excitement over an upcoming live music show.  Dan Hardy is a welcomed exception, and it’s certainly what makes me enjoy his friendship.

Fortunately for me, there’s not much objective criticism that needs to be leveled at Hardy.  He’s a devastating knockout threat that has needed to evolve his ground game to match it, but he’ll be the first to tell you that.  In fact, he tells me that this fight is likely where we will see that evolution, having been coached by grappling expert Ricky Lundell in his last two training camps.  There’s never a concern about Hardy not showing up to fight, as he’s legendary for bringing the fight to his opponent, win or lose.

Follow Dan Hardy on Twitter @DanHardyMMA to see just how well rounded and diverse his interests are. Follow Richard on Twitter @RichardHunter

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