By Ryan Penagos
Marvel Comics fans come from all walks of life, can be found in all corners of the world and hold jobs of all types. Some even get paid to fight.
Take Ultimate Fighting Championship star Dan "The Outlaw" Hardy, a brutal stand-up fighter from England who's trained with Shaolin Monks. Hardy has a record of 23-7-0 and steps once more into the Octagon this Saturday, October 16 to face Carlos "Natural Born Killer" Condit at UFC 120, live on Spike TV at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT. The Outlaw is also a long-time Marvel Comics fan who counts Wolverine among his favorites and has been enjoying the saga of Daken, Wolverine's son.
We chatted with Hardy who's been training in England for his latest fight to discuss Marvel comics, movies and his life as a fighter.
Marvel.com: How's fight training going? Are you excited?
Dan Hardy: Yeah, three weeks to go. I'll be glad when it comes around. This stage in camp, I'm just ready to get the fight started.
Marvel.com: How long have you been training for the fight so far?
Dan Hardy: Really [since] about a month after my last fight. I've only been focused on this guy the past seven weeks now because I didn't find out who I was fighting until that point. But I've thought about training about a month after my last fight. So a while.
Marvel.com: That's got to be intense. What kind of training goes into prepping for a fight?
UFC fighter Dan Hardy,
image courtesy UFC
Dan Hardy: It's pretty much two sessions a day, six days a week and I normally do between four and five hours a day. And that'd be anything from pad work to wrestling and sparring. I also do my strength training and conditioning sessions as well. I normally do a technical session and then a heavy session each day.
Marvel.com: What's this we've heard about you training with Shaolin Monks?
Dan Hardy: I did.
Marvel.com: That's crazy!
Dan Hardy: Yeah, it was pretty crazy. It was as crazy as it sounds, to be honest. It was about eight years ago. Back in 2002, I went out there for two months with the intention of kind of checking the place out and maybe going back and staying for longer. But it was actually spending time out there that got me onto the idea of competing, instead of just doing the traditional side of it.
Marvel.com: What goes into training with Shaolin Monks?
Dan Hardy: Well that was a tough time. We trained between 10 and 12 hours a day starting at about five o' clock in the morning. We'd get up and we'd start with the rope and then we'd do two hours of light technical stuff--whether it was just Tai Chi or Shaolin forms or whatever. And then it'd be breakfast. After breakfast, we'd do more contact stuff, more sparring-based stuff. Then it was lunch and then in the afternoons we'd do weapons training, swords and staffs and a bit of various types of weapons that you would only see on "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."
Marvel.com: How old were you when you started training with the monks there?
Dan Hardy: I went out there in 2002, so I had just turned 20.
Marvel.com: And how long have you been training overall?
Dan Hardy: I started when I was six.
Marvel.com: Dude, you're a machine. That's nuts.
Dan Hardy: [Laughs] I sure don't feel like one at the moment. I'm sure machines don't ache as much as I do. I was a huge fan of the Ninja Turtles when I was a kid. They were on TV all the time and everybody at school wanted to be a Ninja Turtle. My parents just kind of figured that it'd be a good opportunity to get me into something that was productive instead of running around the playground kicking other kids and stuff. And that's how it kind of came about, really. I started doing Tae Kwon Do when I was six and I just stayed doing that for 11 years. I competed to a national level. I was the British champion for four years and then I started doing other things like kickboxing, kung fu and muy Thai and that kind of led me to the UFC, to mixed martial arts.
Marvel.com: That's pretty badass. We also heard that you have some background as an artist. Can you explain that a little bit?
Dan Hardy: I specialized in art just after I left school. I was doing fine art when I was at school and through college, and then I started doing photography and things like that. And then I went on to University and I did contemporary art which was anything from performance to sound pieces or installation pieces. It was a real mix. I did all kinds of things, a lot of it actually involving my martial arts training. I tried to pull that in because it was always really the center my life and always my focus, so it was just kind of easier to bring that in. I did that for a couple of years but then I left to pursue training full-time.
Marvel.com: Do you still do any sort of art now?
Dan Hardy: I do actually. I carry a sketchbook around with me a lot of the time. I'm always scribbling and drawing.
Marvel.com: We heard you're a fan of Daken. How'd you get introduced to Daken?
Dan Hardy: I actually had a fan come up to me at the UFC Expo in Las Vegas. The UFC had the first UFC Expo at UFC 100, which was a couple of years ago in Las Vegas, and they got about 125,000 people through the door over two days. It was a bunch of stalls and places where you could meet fighters and it was awesome to be honest. It was pretty crazy. I had one guy who was a fan of mine and he came up to get one of my bandanas signed, and he was telling me about the fact that Wolverine had a son and he looked quite a lot like me with the tattoos and the mohawk and stuff.
And so I did a bit of research. I read the background information on him and I can see quite a few of the similarities. Obviously, there are some things that I could do with that he's got, like the regeneration powers and the super human strength and all that and the claws would be quite handy as well. I doubt I'd be able to get away with them in the Octagon. [Laughs]
Marvel.com: What draws you to the characters, aside from the physical stuff?
WOLVERINE ORIGINS VOL. 3: SWIFT AND TERRIBLE cover by Joe Quesada
Dan Hardy: I ordered WOLVERINE: ORIGINS VOL 3: SWIFT AND TERRIBLE. I'm actually saving that for fight week because I always like to have a bit of a change of pace for fight week just to take my mind off what's going on with the media and stuff. So to be honest, I don't know a great deal about him at the moment. I know about his background, that he's Wolverine's son and that he was adopted by a Japanese family and all that. And then he was sent to Canada for a training camp, is that right?
Marvel.com: Yeah, he's been all around.
Dan Hardy: Yeah and just the fact that he was told that Wolverine was responsible for his mother's death and all that. He just seemed like an interesting character. [When I first learned about Daken] I was having a psychological battle with Marcus Davis and I wanted to fight the guy and I was kind of winding him up. You know, getting him on the edge so he would take the fight. I'm kind of known for that psychological warfare going into fights. And [Daken]'s got the ability to control people's emotions, is that right?
Marvel.com: Yep, he uses pheromones and there's a lot of psychological stuff going on.
Dan Hardy: Yeah, so other than the obvious things of the hair and the tattoos, it was the way he kind of goes about beating people. I realized a few years ago that I wasn't going to be the best athlete in the cage all the time and now in the UFC most of the time the guys I'm fighting are more athletic than me, so I have to use other tactics. And that's one of the things that works for me. I break my opponents down to a point where their logic and gameplan goes out the window and then I can capitalize on that emotional response. That's one of the things that kind of interested me about him, that he actually uses a psychological and emotional approach to beating people.
Marvel.com: That's cool. I've talked to a bunch of fighters over the past couple of years. You're the first person who has taken that tactic. It's really interesting. I could see how it would be effective for you in the Octagon.
Dan Hardy: Yeah I mean, Marcus Davis was the first person I've ever really used it on. He's born and bred in Boston and he calls himself the Irish Hand Grenade. I knew it was a very, very sensitive area that he never actually lived in Ireland. So I just kind of poked at him a little bit until he started to get really, really angry and when the fight came about he was so angry at me that he just completely forgot the logical way to fight me. It just went completely out the window. He burned himself out in the first round and I ended up winning the fight because of it. And even fights after, the one against me he was still talking about that fight and the fact that he wanted to fight me again, and so the UFC fans know me as a fighter that really gets inside my opponent's head. It is a real valuable tactic that a lot of fighters don't use. I mean, Muhammad Ali was one of the best at it.
Marvel.com: Kind of going off that, if you're Daken, which character would Carlos Condit be?
Dan Hardy: I don't know, to be honest. If I had to give him a character, I don't know if I'd be able to give him a super hero because I just can't build him up in my mind like that. I'd have to give him a character [that's] more tame. I can't look at him and give him any credit for any kind of special powers. That'd be very difficult.
Marvel.com: I hear ya. You have all these different fighting styles. What do you use the most when you get into the cage?
Dan Hardy: Well, striking is what I'm known for. I've had quite a lot of success with my left hook. My second fight in the UFC, I knocked the guy out in just over a minute with a left hook and that's become one of my main weapons the last couple of fights. Other than that, I like to be in the clinch and I like to use elbows and knees.
Marvel.com: Brutal, dude.
Dan Hardy: Yeah, I must have sharp elbows. I actually have a rock tattooed on one of my elbows which I had done intentionally because that's kind of how I like to feel, how I like my elbows to feel.
Marvel.com: What do you have tattooed?
Dan Hardy: I have a rock tattooed on the back of my right arm. I have a full Japanese sleeve on my right arm and on the back of the arm I have a rock that goes up over my elbow. It's a psychological thing, so when I throw that elbow that's my hard elbow. I want my opponents to feel that rock when I hit them.
Marvel.com: Where do you go for all of your tattoos? You have specific places or do you just get them while you travel?
Dan Hardy; I go around to different places. I tend to go off other tattoo artists' recommendations. If one tattoo artist tells me that another tattoo artist is good then you know they're going to be legit. So I travel around quite a bit. I had my arm done by a guy called Sung Song over in Los Angeles and I also had my back done over there by a guy called Norm, so I travel around quite a bit. I've had quite a few. I have one on my left calf in North Carolina and I'm actually planning on having another piece done when I get back to California as well. It's very addictive.
Marvel.com: Yeah, if you ever come to New York, give me a shout and I'll set you up with my tattoo artist. He's awesome.
Dan Hardy: Yeah, definitely. I'll probably be heading out to New York in the next couple of months, actually. I'm doing a seminar tour around the U.S. and New York is one of the stops.
Marvel.com: What do you do on the seminar?
Dan Hardy: It's basically a teaching seminar. It's myself and two other fighters that are traveling around the U.S. It's a tour called "Just Cause." It's a charity thing. We're traveling 45 days on the tour bus, around the U.S. and we'll stop at each different place and it's like a six-hour seminar that people pay for and we all do two-hour slots on the seminar and then we do autograph signings and appearances and things like that. JustCauseMMA.com is the web site.
Marvel.com: When you come to New York, give me a shout and you can come by Marvel and I'll show you some other comics. Daken's great, and we have so many fantastic characters. From talking to you, I think you'd be into Iron Fist, who's a sick character. He punched a dragon in its heart and his fist is mystically powered and he's like the most badass Kung Fu dude in the world. He's really cool.
Dan Hardy: That sounds good. I would definitely like to do that. Yeah, Iron Fist, I'll have to check him out. Deadpool was always one of my favorite characters.
Marvel.com: What about Deadpool do you like?
Dan Hardy: I don't know. It was just his tenacity. Just persistent, you know what I mean? He just never gave up. Whoever he was up against, he would chase them to the end. I used to collect the X-Men cards, as well. I've actually got the full set. It's like 180 cards and Deadpool's card was always the best. It was like a foil, like a shiny color. I still have them. They're awesome. I have to dig them out. Some of the artwork on them was amazing.
Marvel.com: Deadpool is everywhere for us, He's one of our most popular characters, without a doubt, right now. He's in about three different comics. He's in our "Marvel vs. Capcom 3" video game that's coming out next year. His special moves in that game are both really funny and just completely over-the-top and crazy.
Deadpool character art from ''Marvel vs. Capcom 3''
Dan Hardy: Awesome. I'll have to check it out. I do play games quite a lot. I'm in the new UFC game--"UFC 2010"--it's the first time I've been in a video game, which is pretty weird.
Marvel.com: That's awesome. Do you have an action figure yet?
Dan Hardy: Not yet. I'm hoping for that. I should get one. I've got a crazy haircut and they normally like those kinds of things. So I'm hoping for one soon.
Marvel.com: How realistic is it for your fighting style and what you do in the Octagon, versus what they portray in the video game?
Dan Hardy: I was quite surprised. I was thinking they would just use sort of generic movement for all the fighters, but they've picked out specific techniques that I do well and made them my special techniques. Like my step back left hook is one of them. I do a Superman punch and I do a head kick and they're my special moves in the game. Also at the start of it, Bruce Buffer, the ring announcer--when he's at the center and he's calling my name, I always have a little back and forth with him and I point at him and I mouth what he's saying and they put that in the game as well. A lot of the fans like that. They like that interaction'because fighters don't tend to do it. I've got to go back and have my tattoos updated because they were missing a couple. I'm on the Xbox all the time. I've actually got "[Marvel:] Ultimate Alliance."
Marvel.com: Oh yeah, you like that?
Dan Hardy: Yeah that's awesome. I got my girlfriend to play that. She quite likes it.
Marvel.com: Do you like Spider-Man at all?
Dan Hardy: Yeah. I enjoyed the movies. More so, "Iron Man" to be honest, but yeah I did enjoy the Spider-Man movies.
Marvel.com: The "Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions" video game we just put out very recently. I think it's out in the U.K. It should be out in the U.K. next week, I think. It's a lot of fun.
Dan Hardy: Cool. What's the Wolverine game like?
Marvel.com: It's fun and pretty violent.
Dan Hardy: Really?
Marvel.com: You can punch through dudes with your claws. It's a ton of fun. I'm very happy we got it made because you don't see that in a lot of super hero games. But that's probably what would happen when Wolverine is fighting a bunch of dudes.
Dan Hardy: That sounds good. I might have to check that out. I always take my Xbox with me to the hotel before a fight week and I would sit and play the games. I always like to get a new game and I think that sounds like the one I'm getting. That'll be something that'll keep my mind off the fight during fight week.
Marvel.com: At what point before the fight do you just snap back into the zone and get ready to fight?
Dan Hardy: It's normally, to be honest, when I wake up on that Saturday. I'm normally pretty relaxed all the way through fight week. But I kind of do that intentionally. Partly for a bit of a show for my opponent as well because I like them to see me all chilled out and relaxed and confident. But it's normally when I wake up on fight day. And I normally sleep in until about the early afternoon. So I get up about one o'clock. And I start to get a little bit of nerves, but that goes away after I've had a little bit of food. They come back about hour before the fight. I'm normally pretty good. I'm normally pretty relaxed. But as soon as I'm in the arena, 60,000 people cheering and shouting your name, it really gets you pumped up.
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