Dan (The Outlaw) Hardy prepares for next months UFC 105 showdown with Swick

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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TORONTO - Dan (The Outlaw) Hardy won both the war of words and the decision last time out against Marcus (The Irish Hand Grenade) Davis at UFC 99.
But the confident English welterweight isn't trash-talking in the leadup to his showdown with American Mike (Quick) Swick at UFC 105 next month in Manchester, England.
"I've not really said too much about it because I don't think you need to at the moment," Hardy told The Canadian Press. "I think the fight is kind of selling itself and I've not really got anything bad to say about Mike, other than the fact that Nov. 14th I'm going to be putting him to sleep."
The stakes are much higher this time. A win over Swick and Hardy moves near the front of the contenders' line in a 170-pound weight class dominated by champion Georges St. Pierre of Montreal. Hardy's three straight wins since entering the UFC coupled with St. Pierre's cleaning out of the division have catapulted the 27-year-old from Nottingham up the ranks.
"Definitely (I'm) ahead of schedule, but that's what winning fights does for you," Hardy said. "You know everything's going according to plan, I'm beating the right guys and my shot's presenting itself a little earlier than I thought it would. But I've not got a problem with that at all."
Hardy's popularity is demonstrated by the fact that his fight with Swick (14-2) has been elevated to co-main event status at UFC 105, dropping the bout between England's Michael Bisping and Canadian Denis Kang down the main card lineup.
Part of that is because Bisping is coming off a brutal knockout loss to Dan Henderson at UFC 100 and Kang, a veteran of Pride in Japan, is still establishing himself in the UFC. But the move up the card also reflects Hardy's rapid rise.
Hardy (22-6 with one no contest) hasn't really put a foot wrong since making his debut at UFC 89 in October 2008, defeating Akihoro Gono. He had turned down an offer to join the UFC 18 months earlier, reasoning he wasn't ready yet.
The six-foot fighter with the red mohawk is smart and resourceful inside and outside the cage. After wins over Gono and Rory Markham, he essentially talked his way into a bout with Davis, a fighter with more experience and stature in the UFC.
Hardy burrowed his way under Davis' skin, calling him a "fake Irishman" among other things. It was calculated and manipulative but the emotional Davis fell for the bait and the war of words that preceded their June bout was monumental. Hardy's fans ratcheted up the rivalry with a string of photoshopped pictures featuring Davis that ranged from funny to warped.
"I hate Dan Hardy," Davis said on the eve of the fight. And he meant it.
Hardy may have talked the talk but he also walked the walk, stunning Davis with a wicked elbow to the face in the first round and dropping him with a knee to the head in the second. It was a close fight but by the end of it Davis, a bleeder at the best of times, looked like his face had been put in a blender. Hardy won a split decision.
Paul Daley, a friend and training partner, did Hardy a solid last month when he upset Martin (Hitman) Kampmann at UFC 103. Kampmann had been scheduled to fight Swick but ended up facing Daley after Swick was hurt in training.
The Kampmann-Swick winner had been touted as a possible title contender. With Kampmann stumbling after the loss, Hardy can clear the path to the champion a little more by taking down Swick.
Hardy was supposed to meet Dong Hyun (Stun Gun) Kim but the South Korean was injured in training one week into Hardy's camp. Enter Swick, who had recovered from the concussion that stopped him from facing Kampmann.
Swick and Hardy already knew each other, having spent time together during a summer tour of U.S. military bases in Germany prior to UFC 99. Hardy was in fully Davis trash-talking mode at the time and Swick acknowledged he wasn't sure what to expect. But he was pleasantly surprised by the English fighter.
Hardy feels the same way about the charismatic Texan.
"He's a very similar person to myself - he works hard and he trains hard. He just seems like a decent guy. I've not really got anything bad to say about him," Hardy said.
Swick, who beat Davis via unanimous decision at UFC 85, is a talented fighter whose career path has been dotted with injuries. But when healthy, he can be very good.
Swick is 4-0 since moving down to welterweight and looked sharp in his last two fights, crumpling Canadian Jonathan Goulet in just 33 seconds and stopping big Ben Saunders in the second round at UFC 99.
"No disrespect to those guys but I definitely feel I'm going to give him a much harder test," Hardy said. "I thought that both of those guys, you know they're both strong fighters and I thought they would both present him with some problems but he dealt with them well. But I think there's a lot to my game that people haven't seen yet and unfortunately for Swick he's going to be the first person to find out."
A good counter-puncher, Hardy seems comfortable wherever he is in the cage. For his part, Swick has quick hands and has size and experience.
Hardy, who divides his time between an apartment in Los Angeles and home in England, is making moves outside the cage as well. He has taken control of his own career, establishing Outlaw Sports Management with help from his father.
"I think the problem with the sport - same with a lot of sports, boxing as well - there are a lot of people out there that kind of feed off the athletes. And they're not necessarily doing the right kind of jobs that they need to be doing to get the fighters the promotion and the money that they deserve," he said.
If all goes well, Hardy will run into the champion, likely GSP. Hardy looks forward to the meeting.
"That's what I'm in the sport for at the end of the day. He's got what I want and whether it takes me three months to get there or three years I'm still going to be chasing his heels. Certainly I think that at some point in the future we'll meet and I look forward to it, be it straight after the Swick fight or later on in my career."
Hardy's fans have already begun playing with photos of Swick, although this time it seems in good fun. "Just for the record, I have nothing to do with this!" Hardy wrote on one fan forum.
And Swick doesn't seem to be bothered.
"Trust me when I tell you, they won't work on me," Swick said via Twitter.

Organizations: Hardy's, Canadian Press, UFC 100

Geographic location: England, TORONTO, Manchester Montreal Nottingham Japan U.S. Germany Los Angeles

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