MT: Hi Dan, thanks for agreeing to take part in this interview for MuscleTalk! Since you will probably be already pretty well known to a number of our members as one of the UK's most popular MMA fighters, we've done our homework and put together a few probing questions for you so our members can find out a little more about you!
Dan Hardy: No problem...!
MT: If we can start right at the beginning. I understand you first got started in the martial arts when you were just 6 years old studying the traditional style of Tae Kwon Do. Can you tell us a little more about your early days and in particular what was it that first attracted you to the martial arts? I understand a well known bunch of ninja turtles may have had something to do with this ;)?
DH: Yeah, like most kids at the time I watched the Ninja Turtles fanatically! When my parents saw me imitating them they decided to take me to a class to get rid of some extra energy and try and channel it. I competed several times winning quite a few trophies for my club, Eagle Tae Kwon Do and then started training different styles.
MT: Since those early beginnings, you've been training and fighting ever since, studying and competing in a number of different styles. You're now 25 years old, considering the huge drop out rate amongst martial arts students, what has motivated you to keep your training going all these years? Over the years who or what has been your biggest influence?
DH: My family and the support they give me has always been my motivation. I went through a time in my teens where I didn't want to go training anymore but my grandfather started coming with me which encouraged me to stick at it.
MT: Several years ago you made the decision to move away from your traditional roots to become more involved in the rapidly expanding Mixed Martial Arts scene. If we can focus on your MMA career for a moment, what was it about the MMA that first grabbed your attention and led to your decision to compete in this arena?
DH: I think it must be that MMA is the hardest combat sport in the world because anything can happen, this is why it is the most exciting, you never know what's going to happen next.
MT: In 2004 you turned pro and over the next 3 years you went on to take the UK MMA world by storm, earning the respect of many top fighters and MMA fans alike as a result of your top class performances in events such as the Cage Warriors Fighting Championships. Along the way you've built an impressive MMA fight record including 15 wins, many by TKO or unanimous decision. So many good fights, what for you have been the most memorable match ups so far?
DH: there are a couple of fights in particular that stick in my mind, my fight against Matt Thorpe for instance. Matt is a tough fighter and we both fought our hearts out for 25 minutes, at the end I got the decision and the Cage Warriors Welter Weight Title. That was a high point in my career. The other fight that will stay with me forever and motivates me in training was my fight with Forrest Petz. I beat the guy up for the full fight and they gave him the decision; that made me realise that life isn't always fair and you have to make your own luck.
MT: Coming right up to date now and looking at your last fight against the "King of Pancrase" Daizo Ishige in the Quarter Finals of the GCM Cage Force Welterweight Tournament. Prior to the fight many people had you down as the underdog against the reigning champion, however following the fight the general consensus was that you dominated your opponent right from the start. Ultimately the call went to the judges but you once again walked away with the win via a unanimous decision earning some well deserved international recognition including the respect of your upcoming opponent in the Semi Finals, Hidetaka Monma, who admitted that his opinion of you had risen considerably as a result of your win.
What were your thoughts regarding this fight? Did you consider it an 'easy' win or was Ishige a tough opponent?
DH: Ishige was tough for sure, he took a lot of punishment and for a minute in the second round he had me in a bit of trouble. Part from that though, I felt in control for the most part. I love being the underdog and I always perform better against good opposition. My time has passed when it's ok for me to fight lower level fighters. More than anything, I'm not satisfied with myself if I'm not fighting dangerous opponents.
MT: I understand that you've been training very hard for the upcoming Semi Final match up against Monma which is scheduled to take place in Tokyo on September 8th, 2007. I read Eddie Bravo and Team Quest have been helping you to prepare for this one, how's the training going and are you looking forward to the fight?
DH: I can't wait, I am in the best shape of my life and my skills have improved a lot. The guys at Team Quest were great; I got to spar with some of the best guys around. I have been doing a lot of work with Eddie Bravo and all of the 10th Planet guys have been a great help. I got my blue belt off him and will be representing 10th Planet in Tokyo as well as Team Rough House. I have also been doing my strength training with a new coach. Scottie Epstein at Myogenics has got my strength up like never before.
MT: Of course we wish you the very best of luck with the fight. Many people are already saying you have the potential to win it and eventually go on to win the entire tournament! Which brings me on to my next question, what's next for Dan Hardy and what's your ultimate goal in competitive fighting?
DH: I want to be the best! I want to be respected by the fans and other fighters and recognised for the hard work that I put in.
MT: We briefly touched on your pre-fight training above, without giving away any secrets, what's a typical week's training for you, both off season and pre-fight?
DH: my training has been switched up a little for this fight, I am doing two hard cardio sessions a week using interval sprints and just once a week strength training. I do wrestling and jiu jitsu five days a week and striking six. I spar twice a week all the time apart from the two weeks before a fight. Then I do a lot of mental training, visualization stuff focusing on all the ways I can damage my next victim.
MT: Do you incorporate any weight training in your routine and if so, what does that training look like and how do you feel it helps?
DH: Every professional athlete would benefit from weight training but due to my training being very strength based I have to be careful I don't overdo it. For fights before I have done power lifting two to three times a week but felt that it cut down the quality of skill training I was doing because of fatigue. With my new strength coach I have been training once a week at a very high intensity. No explosive, jolting movements, just slow controlled reps to failure. I focus on leg press, chest press and pull ups and after one session I cant do anything for the rest of the day, it's that intense.
MT: Nutrition and diet is obviously a very important part of a fighter's prep. Do you follow a specific diet off season or pre-fight? Do you ever have difficulty making a fighting weight?
DH: I always have to cut weight for a fight and occasionally it can be difficult when it comes to cutting the last couple of kilos in the sauna. Generally, my diet is simple and quite boring. My motto is 'if I could kill it or grow it, I can eat it' so you get the idea!
MT: What nutritional and sports supplements do you use?
DH: I use quite a lot actually. The main one is whey protein and I always add glutamine and leucine to that and creatine once a day too. I take glucosamine sulphate, multi-vitamin, ZMA and fish oil. When I am training hard I add in extra vitamin C, D and a B complex. I use all MP branded products.
MT: You are sponsored by myprotein.co.uk, who fixed this interview for us. Can we ask why you chose to go with these guys as your sponsors?
DH: I like how straight forward their produces are; no nonsense. You need protein? Here is protein. No other secret formulas and marketing jargon. The stuff is basic and good quality and that's the way I like my diet, no added rubbish.
MT: Ok, we've asked lots of questions about Dan Hardy the martial artist, let's round this interview off by finding out a little more about Dan Hardy the man :)
DH: hmmm... ok?!?
MT: Other than training and living the lifestyle of a fighter, what else do you like to do in your spare time? Do you get much time to relax?
DH: watch fights! Actually I love music, hardcore, punk, metal, some rap, anything with good bass and an aggressive undertone! I really love stand up comedy as well... I have quite a collection.
MT: What's your marital status and does your partner support you in your training?
DH: Well I'm not married but I am seeing someone... its going pretty well in my opinion and from what I can tell she is very supportive. Not really sure what else to say on that subject at the moment...!
MT: I see from your Myspace page that your current motto is "Heart in Los Angeles, mind in Tokyo, soul in transit" and you define your mood as 'determined' (we warned you we'd done our homework!). I suspect this is particularly pertinent to your upcoming Semi Final fight against Monma, but thinking beyond that, if Dan Hardy had a motto that he followed in life, what would it be?
DH: That's a difficult one! I have a different one each day to be honest. I think Hatebreed said it best though when they said "if you don't live for something, you die for nothing".
MT: Lastly Dan, a couple of question just to finish up, do you ever visit the MuscleTalk forums or other internet forums, and do you feel that people's knowledge of nutrition and training has improved since forums like MT have become so popular?
DH: Yeah, I have been on there a few times actually. Forums are a great thing for sharing knowledge and swapping ideas. I read forums all the time to see what people are doing in training and with their diet.
MT: As part of the MuscleTalk community we actually have quite a number of martial artists and professional fighters. To end this interview do you have any useful training tips to share with MuscleTalk members which you can draw from your experience?
DH: Nothing replaces hard work and if you compete, combat sports are so unpredictable but the one thing you can be sure of is your own conditioning. Don't let yourself down by running out of gas, get your shoes on and hit the road.
MT: Many thanks for taking the time to be interviewed and on behalf of all the MuscleTalk members, we'd like to wish you all the best in your future career. See you on MT!