Category Archives: Dan Hardy

Today in MMA history: Chris Lytle's farewell adds to Dan Hardy's painful losing streak

For two fighters coming from very different places in their careers, Chris Lytle and Dan Hardy had reached some similar conclusions about their respective futures by the time they met on Aug. 14, 2011, in the main event of UFC on Versus 5.

Both of them went into the fight expecting it to be their last, albeit for very different reasons. Time would prove that one of them meant it more than the other, but on that night in Milwaukee they each fought with a similar urgency, two men chasing a feeling that they knew they might never get another taste of.

Lytle was the only one who let people in on his secret. At weigh-ins the day before the fight, he handed out two letters – one to UFC President Dana White and another to longtime UFC matchmaker Joe Silva. The sentiment of the letters was relatively simple, according to Lytle. It said thank you and goodbye. After 12 years as a pro fighter, he’d decided to retire.

“But first I just wanted to thank them for everything they’d done to change my life,” Lytle told MMAjunkie. “People criticize Dana and the UFC, but I fought for the UFC before Zuffa owned it, back when it was (Semiphore Entertainment Group) and I was making $500 to fight.”

Lytle had reached the decision well in advance of the Hardy fight. He was coming off a loss to Brian Ebersole some six months earlier, but more importantly, he’d recently been forced to take a month off from training due to a knee injury. For Lytle, a full-time firefighter and committed gym rat, that was unusual.

“I was one of those guys that was always in the gym, never took time off, and that meant that over the course of my career I missed a lot of family stuff, missed my kids’ basketball games and gymnastic meets and stuff like that,” Lytle said. “I started feeling guilty about that. I realized I’m not as big a part of their lives as I wanted to be.”

When the UFC offered him a fight with Hardy in the late summer, Lytle was initially enthusiastic about starting his training camp. He was a fan of Hardy’s aggressive, striking-heavy fighting style. It seemed to lend itself to exciting fights, which had been Lytle’s main career goal after a disappointing outing against Matt Serra in the finale of season four of “The Ultimate Fighter.”

But when he got back in the gym to gear up for the fight, a strange thing happened.

“I started feeling actually guilty going to the gym, and that had never happened to me before,” Lytle said. “I started realizing, man, you’ve got a basketball game you’re missing today. I realized, I’m getting older, my kids are getting older, and there’s time I’m never going to get back.”

That night, Lytle sat down for a talk with his wife. He told her he’d decided to quit fighting after the bout with Hardy. He wanted to be there for his family more. He wanted to stop missing so many important moments. They agreed that, win or lose, he’d hang up his gloves that August.

“After I said that I felt like, ‘OK, I’m going to win my last fight,’” Lytle said. “I had that extra motivation, and I didn’t feel guilty about going to the gym after that.”

Hardy, meanwhile, was battling some very different emotions. A little over a year earlier he’d been the top welterweight contender, unbeaten in four fights with the UFC and headed into a title fight against champion Georges St-Pierre. He would spend the better part of 25 minutes getting out-wrestled in that fight, having his arm wrenched in multiple submission attempts before ultimately losing a unanimous decision.

There was no shame in the defeat. St-Pierre was already regarded as one of the best all-around fighters in the world, and Hardy had hung tough with him. But then he lost his next fight via knockout at the hands of Carlos Condit that October, and in the spring he was once again wrestled into defeat, this time by future light heavyweight contender Anthony Johnson, who surprised everyone by eschewing his usual headhunting tactics in favor of takedowns and top control.

Losing his third consecutive fight was upsetting enough, but the way he lost it was particularly frustrating for Hardy.

“I remember being backstage after that fight and I was sitting with my hand in a bucket of ice because I’d dislocated my thumb, and in my head I was just like, ‘I’m done,’” Hardy said. “I said that to my coach. I told him, ‘This isn’t fun for me anymore. I’m not enjoying it anymore. I’m ready to do something else.’ I was already looking at going back to university and doing something else with my life. When they came to me with Chris Lytle, I thought it was going to be my last fight regardless. I kind of got in there just to have a good time. I had complete disregard for my own career and my own future in the sport, because I really didn’t think I had one at that point.”

It was something of a surprise for Hardy to even get the opportunity to headline a UFC event by that point. The UFC had made a habit of cutting fighters who hit three losses in a row, and already fans had begun to ask how and why Hardy still had a job.

From the outside, that made the fight with Lytle seemed like do-or-die territory. But in his head, Hardy was mainly after one thing – a brawl.

“That was the first time I didn’t get into a fight thinking too much about winning,” Hardy said. “I just wanted to get what I felt like I hadn’t gotten from my last fight with Anthony Johnson.”

When word circulated the day before the fight that it would be Lytle’s final bout, that complicated things for Hardy, he admitted. He’d been an admirer of Lytle’s style and his penchant for thrilling scraps in recent years. It was a compliment, in a way, to be his last fight. It also added even more pressure to entertain, which was evident in the fight’s early exchanges.

Hardy came marching forward that night with a bright red mohawk to match his shorts, and Lytle met him in the center of the cage, ready to plant his feet and throw. His plan, he said, was to prevent Hardy from developing any offensive momentum as he advanced.

“I was always wanting to come forward,” Lytle said. “I felt like I had a better chance if I was moving forward, and I felt like he wasn’t quite as dangerous if you could get him moving backward.”

That strategy would prove to have some flaws. Lytle managed to back Hardy up often in those first two rounds, mainly by employing body shots that opened up Hardy’s defenses for the big bombs that followed. But as Lytle got too enthusiastic about chasing Hardy down, he also ran directly into some short counter strikes from Hardy that sent him wobbling back early in the fight.

“Usually when you get hit with one like that, it’s usually not the first punch – it’s the second one that gets you,” Lytle said. “Because then you’re a little bit slower and that nice, clean, flush shot is the one that hurts you. I knew I had to to be smart then, and I was usually pretty good at avoiding that follow-up shot.”

Lytle’s ability to recover and survive came as a surprise to Hardy, who saw several openings in the first two rounds vanish as Lytle shook off strikes that seemed like potential fight-enders.

“I remember catching him with an elbow on the temple, and I remember him putting both of his hands down,” Hardy said. “I think that was in the second round. More than anything I was amazed at his durability. Most of the time, when I hit someone with a good shot, they tend to go down.”

By the third round, Lytle seemed to be in control on the scorecards. Hardy’s corner was telling him that he likely needed a finish, and his increased aggression in that final frame showed his willingness to take risks in search of it. No matter how many times Lytle rattled his skull with power punches, Hardy never stopped attacking, in part because of how aware he was of the need to put on a show.

“I was taking a lot of chances in that fight, a lot of risks,” Hardy said. “I took more shots in that fight than the majority of the rest of my career, purely because I wasn’t thinking strategically. I kind of got drawn into Chris Lytle’s style of fighting, although I was more than prepared to do that. I was surprised that he was as durable as he was, but at the same time it was a horrible performance from me.”

With precious time draining away in the final minute, Hardy pressed forward behind a punch combo and then shot in for a takedown, looking to surprise Lytle. While Lytle had long ago decided that he wasn’t interested in going for takedowns of his own, the jiu-jitsu black belt was more than ready to grapple when Hardy initiated it.

“I don’t ever trust going to the judges,” Lytle said. “I’ve thought I won some fights and then lost some split-decisions. You don’t ever know what’s going to happen. To be honest, my thought was keep pouring it on. I was landing some good punches, and I wanted to knock his head off if I could. I wanted to stop him, but honestly the submission wasn’t even a thought until he shot in on me. Then the muscle memory kind of took over.”

Almost in a single motion, Lytle sprawled to defend the takedown and locked up a guillotine choke that he used to roll Hardy onto his back. Lytle moved to mount and torqued it harder, and for a moment it looked as though Hardy may slip into unconsciousness.

“I was surprised with how quickly he got the guillotine,” Hardy said. “It wasn’t really a concern at first.”

Once he saw that he couldn’t escape, and with 45 seconds still to go in the round, Hardy had no choice but to tap. As he did, the crowd erupted for Lytle, the retiring fighter who’d capped off a storybook farewell that summed up the last few years of his career. He’d gotten the slugfest he wanted, but also a chance to show off his underrated submissions game in the end.

Most importantly, he’d gotten the win in an exciting fight, meaning he could exit on a high note.

“That’s the thing, you’re always going to remember that last one,” Lytle said. “That’s going to be how you remember the world of MMA and the UFC in your career. You just don’t know how it’s going to go. Fighters have a lot of pressure on them, and it was just a big release of pressure. I could just tell it was going to bring me a lot of satisfaction for years to come. Because if you go out there in your last one and get knocked out, that’s going to leave a bad taste in your mouth for maybe the rest of your life.”

For Hardy, a sense of peace followed the initial disappointment of the loss. Even he had to admit that there was a certain poetic beauty in the way Lytle had capped off his career. Plus, while he hadn’t disclosed his thoughts on his own career, by the time he showed up to the post-fight press conference, Hardy was ready for what would come next. He was almost certain that it would start with getting cut from the UFC. It was social media that told him otherwise.

“I was sitting in the press conference when I saw that tweet from (UFC CEO) Lorenzo (Fertitta) saying, ‘I like guys that war,’” Hardy said. “That was the point when I thought to myself, ‘OK, this is my final chance. This is my opportunity to turn some things around.’ Because I’d almost exorcised some demons in that fight. Even though I lost the fight, I got out of my system a lot of the frustrations that I’d been carrying around from my previous three fights. In my head, I was absolutely accepting of the fact that this was it and I was done.”

Once he realized that his life in the UFC would go on, Hardy decided to take some time off before his next fight. He would return nine months later, ending his four-fight losing streak with a knockout victory over Duane Ludwig at UFC 146. He fought again and won that September before being sidelined by medical issues that have kept him out of the cage to this day, much to his chagrin.

And while he can’t help but thinking of things he might have done differently in that Lytle fight, Hardy said, ultimately he can’t complain. He’s found a new career as a commentator, and he’s happy with where his life has taken him. There’s not much he’d want to change about the journey if it meant changing the current destination.

“The other thing that I keep going back to is that the winner of that fight was supposed to get a Harley-Davidson (via a UFC giveaway through the Harley-Davidson Museum),” Hardy said. “And if I’d won that fight and been given a Harley-Davidson as the winner, I wouldn’t be here today, because I’d have driven that into a wall or something. So there’s a silver lining. I’ve just got to look for it sometimes.”

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Mayweather-McGregor call will culminate Dan Hardy's transition away from UFC punk rock bandit

Following an exhaustive 11 consecutive weeks of UFC events, Dan Hardy had set aside August for some long overdue upkeep on his Leicestershire home in the English midlands.

Living with his wife Lacey in what was originally a church house for the past four years, Hardy is yet to still fully unpack all the belongings that returned with him from Las Vegas after his UFC career was cruelly cut short by a heart condition known as Wolff–Parkinson–White syndrome. But those August plans for refining his residence were immediately put on hold when the UFC color commentator and analyst received an unexpected phone call from an equally unlikely source.

It was media conglomerate Sky Sports, and they had called to offer Hardy the position of co-commentator from their pay-preview broadcast of the boxing match between UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) and the 49-0, five-division kingpin Floyd Mayweather.

Hardy gratefully accepted the role, which will see him joined in the commentary booth by British former four-time boxing world champion Carl Froch. Considering the 35-year-old intended to watch the historic bout on the sofa with his dog, it’s certainly been quite the turn of events.

Dan Hardy interviews Jack Hermansson at UFC Fight Night 109.

“I was very surprised,” Hardy told MMAjunkie. “It’s nice that the space between the UFC and Sky has closed a bit. I have a lot of respect for Sky, not necessarily for reaching out to me, but for reaching out to anybody in the MMA community to try and give some balance to this commentary.

“This is such an unprecedented event, and it wouldn’t really do it justice just to have boxing commentators there because there are so many things Conor brings to the table, and there are so many things worth knowing about his MMA career that nobody in the boxing world is really touching on.”

Since his transition from fighter to media member, Hardy has garnered a reputation as one of the most canny, insightful analysts in the sport, and he hopes to bring those observational skills to bear over the coming weeks. Indeed, Hardy is palpably determined to offer a point of view he believes to have been sorely lacking to date in the conversation surrounding Mayweather and McGregor.

“I just don’t think that anybody is really putting a logical argument forward for Conor,” Hardy said. “I’ve spoken about Brendan Schaub, who is Conor’s biggest fan, but he’s not really putting anything logical together.

“Nobody else is either, and I feel kind of sad for Conor because he has redefined the sport of MMA in just four years. Why should we count him out now? That’s my motivation, to try and give everybody a fair shout. I’m not there to tell people who will win; I’m there to explain that either fighter can win – and how.”

Hardy was interviewed via Skype by Sky Sports when news of the contest between Mayweather and McGregor was first announced, but there was little evidence to suggest that he’d be hearing from them again any time soon.

BT Sport has been the UFC’s broadcast partner in the U.K. and Ireland since 2013, but the company was outbid by Sky for the PPV rights of the showdown at T-Mobile Arena. Hardy believes Sky enlisted his services after quickly discerning just how much of their potential success in this venture depends on the MMA fanbase.

“I’m not sure Sky realized how much of an impact the MMA community is going to have on their pay-per-view sales,” Hardy said. “Once they did, they probably thought it worth having a voice familiar to those fans and decided to give me a shout. I’m just thankful to Sky and the UFC for putting me in this position.

“I certainly feel very privileged to be stepping into that role, but just the fact that Sky have reached out to anyone is a positive step forward for MMA and the UFC.”

Filed under: Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Video: Hardy, Gooden break down Daniel Cormier vs. Jon Jones 2 at UFC 214

Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

Arguably the most anticipated rematch in MMA history goes down Saturday at UFC 214.

Light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier (19-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) meets former champ and heated (and hated) rival Jon Jones (22-1 MMA, 16-1 UFC) in the headliner ofUFC 214, which takes place Saturday at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FXX and UFC Fight Pass.

Ahead of the main event, UFC broadcasters Dan Hardy and John Gooden step “Inside the Octagon” to break down the fight.

Cormier lost to Jones at UFC 182 in their first meeting when Jones was champion. But not long after that, he was stripped of the belt and suspended indefinitely in the wake of a hit-and-run accident. Cormier won the vacant title with a submission of Anthony Johnson.

Since then, Cormier has defended the belt against Alexander Gustafsson and Johnson in a rematch at UFC 210 in April. Jones has fought just once since his first fight with Cormier in January 2015. He won an interim belt at UFC 197 against Ovince Saint-Preux, and was expected to face Cormier at UFC 200 a year ago. But three days before the bout, it was announced he tested positive for a banned substance. He eventually was stripped (again) of his interim title and suspended for a year.

Despite the long layoff, Jones is more than a 2-1 favorite against Cormier.

Check out Hardy and Gooden’s breakdown in the video above. And don’t miss their analysis of the other two title fights at UFC 214 between Tyron Woodley and Demian Maia, and Tonya Evinger and Cristiane Justino.

For more on UFC 214, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: News, UFC, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

Video: Hardy, Gooden break down Woodley-Maia, Justino-Evinger at UFC 214

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There are three titles on the line Saturday at UFC 214.

Ahead of the co-main event, as well as the card’s third title fight, UFC broadcasters Dan Hardy and John Gooden step “Inside the Octagon” to break down the fight.

Welterweight champion Tyron Woodley (17-3-1 MMA, 7-2-1 UFC) takes on Demian Maia (25-6 MMA, 19-6 UFC) in the co-feature of UFC 214, which takes place Saturday at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FXX and UFC Fight Pass.

Woodley is unbeaten in his past five fights. He won the title with a knockout of Robbie Lawler. Then he had a majority draw against Stephen Thompson at UFC 205, followed by a majority decision defense at UFC 209 earlier this year. Maia challenged for the UFC’s middleweight title more than seven years ago. But as a welterweight, he has seven straight wins to earn his title shot.

The night’s first title fight will crown a new women’s featherweight champion. Tonya Evinger (19-5 MMA, 0-0 UFC) moves up from bantamweight to take on Cristiane Justino (17-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) for the vacant 145-pound title.

Woodley is a 2-1 favorite against Maia in the co-main event. “Cyborg,” though, is as much as a 13-1 favorite against Evinger, making her one of the biggest chalk picks of the year.

For more on UFC 214, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: News, UFC, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

Video: Hardy, Gooden break down Yoel Romero vs. Robert Whittaker UFC 213 co-main event

Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

An interim middleweight title is on the line Saturday at UFC 213.

Ahead of the co-main event, UFC broadcasters Dan Hardy and John Gooden step “Inside the Octagon” to break down the fight.

With UFC 185-pound champ Michael Bisping on the shelf a while longer, red-hot middleweights Yoel Romero (12-1 MMA, 8-0 UFC) and Robert Whittaker (18-4 MMA, 9-2 UFC) meet for the interim strap in the co-feature of UFC 213, which takes place Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

Romero has won all eight of his fights since coming to the UFC. Whittaker has won seven straight, the past six of which have been since he moved up to middleweight. Both men have five fight-night bonuses in their current streaks.

The odds are close for the co-main event. Australia-based Whittaker is a slight favorite at -135 to Romero’s +105. Hardy and Gooden break the fight down from every angle. Check out the video above to hear their analysis.

For more on UFC 213, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.


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Filed under: News, UFC, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

Watch today's UFC Q&A with Whittaker, Pena, Pedro and Hardy at 7 p.m. ET

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AUCKLAND, New Zealand – Prior to today’s UFC Fight Night 110 ceremonial weigh-ins, you can watch a star-studded Q&A here on MMAjunkie at 7 p.m. ET (4 p.m. PT).

Hosted by UFC vet/commentator Dan Hardy, the fan and media event includes a trio of current UFC fighters: Robert Whittaker, Juliana Pena and Tyson Pedro.

All four participants take questions from fans and media during the one-hour session.

For more on UFC Fight Night 110, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: News, UFC, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie