Dan Hardy finds himself in a must-win situation at UFC Live 5. | Photo: Dave Mandel
When former welterweight title contender Dan Hardy, Mohawk in tow, enters the cage to meet Chris Lytle in the UFC Live 5 headliner on Sunday at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, he will do so with the weight of a three-fight losing streak hanging over his head.
In the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world of MMA, such stumbles come with a price. Prior to his current slide, the 29-year-old Hardy had never lost more than two fights in a row.
“Well, it’s unusual territory for me,” he said during a pre-fight teleconference. “I’ve never been in this situation before. I had two back-to-back losses a while back in my career, and that was a very difficult situation to be in.
“At this level, that’s just the way it goes sometimes,” Hardy added. “You get in there and you give everything you’ve got every time, and the outcome a lot of the time is out of your hands because it’s just such an unpredictable sport and the level that we’re fighting at is so high that anything can happen at any minute.”
Staring at the possibility of a fourth consecutive defeat against a battle-tested and respected veteran like Lytle, Hardy knows there will be much at stake when the two collide. The magnitude of the moment, in terms of how it could impact his career, has not been lost on him.
“You know, it does put pressure on me because, obviously, I love fighting with [the] UFC,” Hardy said. “I love being a part of this sport and a part of this world, and the friends are great. I have great support, so I don’t want to let those friends down that want to see me fight in the UFC. So, yes, there is definitely pressure, but I’ve just got to kind of go with the flow. I can’t force it too much. I’ve got to do everything that I can in the gym to prepare myself for the fight and take it as it comes.”
In fairness to Hardy, his three setbacks have come to reigning UFC welterweight king Georges St. Pierre, surging former WEC champion Carlos Condit and the monstrous Anthony Johnson. He has not competed since being outwrestled and controlled by Johnson at UFC Fight Night 24 in March.
“If I think about it too much, then it’s going to get me down and it’s going to stop me [from] performing at my best,” Hardy said. “Right now, I feel like I’m unstoppable, and that’s exactly what I need to feel going into this fight. So the thought of the three losses is more of a motivational tool than anything else.”