May 26, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Dan Hardy (left) and Duane Ludwig fight during the UFC 146 at the MGM Grand Garden event center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE
The calls for Dan Hardy to change up his fighting style have been so loud and sustained, they've been impossible to ignore. He's heard them, too, undoubtedly mulling them over in his mind, night after night while envisioning his last four fights under the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) banner, all losses.
Maybe everyone else was right and it was time to reinvent himself.
He went about making a few changes by moving to Las Vegas, Nevada, and getting more firmly entrenched with a solid training camp in advance of his UFC 146 showdown against Duane Ludwig on May 26, 2012. That included working more with Frank Mir, who would be challenging Junior dos Santos for the heavyweight championship on the same card.
But come fight time, Hardy didn't really look any different. The trademark red colored mohawk was still there. He was still in perfectly in tune with Bruce Buffer while the veteran Octagon announcer introduced him to thousands of adoring fans at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
And, most importantly, he was still standing with his head held high, ready to let those British hands fly.
That's what he did once the referee prompted him to at the start of the contest. Ludwig, his opponent, was eager and willing to exchange with him, showing a varied offense that staggered "The Outlaw" early.
But whereas Hardy may have folded in times past, he decided to grit his teeth, bear down and keep on pushing. Not long after, standing straight across from his opponent, he unleashed a looping left hook, that same looping left hook so many pundits blasted him for using far too often.
It landed. Ludwig dropped like a sack of potatoes and Hardy's arms shot into the air triumphant.
The fight wasn't over. Not yet, anyway. But the follow up punches were academic. Hardy was victorious for the first time in nearly three full years. Not only that, he had justified UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta's decision to keep him on the roster despite his impressive run of futility.
Maybe he didn't win the welterweight championship, maybe he wasn't in the main event, maybe he wasn't even on the main card; but he was a winner. Finally, after all the blood, sweat, and tears, Dan Hardy was a winner once more.