When an up-and-coming fighter gets the long-awaited call to make his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) debut, it's a dream come true. It's proof that all of the hard work, all the training, all the good performances on the local circuit have finally paid off.
However, getting into the UFC is only half the battle. The other half, staying in the UFC, is much more difficult.
With a fighter being at the mercy of Zuffa's dreaded pink slip at any given time, one has to make sure to do anything possible to get that all important win, or at the very least give your best performance in defeat. With two, maybe three consecutive defeats being the norm to justify a release from the world's leading mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion, one would think four losses in a row and still maintain employment with Zuffa is all but impossible.
Not true, as Dan Hardy has been a testament to.
After beginning his UFC career with four straight victories, "The Outlaw" has now lost four consecutive inside the Octagon including his 2010 title shot against the UFC's Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre at UFC 111, which was the beginning point of his downward spiral.
Facing an all but guaranteed firing, Hardy was given another chance by company CEO Lorenzo Fertitta who tweeted that he would not axe the Mohawk-wearing brawler. Now, not only will Hardy be fighting for his UFC career as he faces Duane Ludwig this weekend (May 26, 2012) at UFC 146 in Las Vegas, Nevada, but he will look to justify Fertitta's decision to keep him around for another fight when most would have probably been long gone.
Appearing on The MMA Hour, "The Outlaw" talks about the motivation he has to prove Fertitta right heading into his bout with "Bang" in "Sin City."
Check it out:
"It kind of changed things for me as well. Now, I am not only fighting for myself and for my family, but I'm also fighting to kind of validate his decision. I know he took a lot of heat for that and there is a small pocket of fans out there that demand people are cut after three losses and I was honored for him to speak out for me and say that. One thing I will always do for the UFC and for the fans is how up and fight. I think that is one thing Lorenzo respects about me that I'll always give it everything I got. And Lorenzo is a great guy. He is a very down to earth guy and he genuinely loves the sport and he's a huge fan himself. So for him to want to keep me around for at least one more fight is an honor and it means that I'm not only fighting for myself now, but I'm also fighting for his decision and for my new team, as well."
Hardy's opponent, Ludwig, is coming off a loss to Josh Neer at UFC on FX: "Guillard vs. Miller" earlier this year and looks to get back into the win column himself to prolong his career with the UFC, as well.
The bout is tailor-made for both fighters seeing as how they both prefer to slug it out on the feet and are rarely involved in dull fights. Both needing a win and with something to prove, one more-so than the other, fans can expect a very entertaining barn-burner.
How about it Maniacs, who will have their hand raised when the dust settles in Las Vegas? The British banger Hardy? Or the record setting Ludwig?