"It's been good. It's been real good," said Hardy of the sabbatical from fighting on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "I moved to Las Vegas just before my last fight and as soon as the fight was done I came back and started working with a bunch of different coaches. I've had a good nine months to work with these guys now and this is the first time I've had a training camp with them. I feel awesome. I feel good."
There's a lot that's different this time. There's the new coaching regimen (more on that in a moment). There was the time to reflect on what went wrong, something generally not possible when moving at the speed of UFC operations. And despite Hardy being in what has to be a must-win position against Duane Ludwig this weekend at UFC 146, the circumstances aren't psychologically bearing down on him like they once did.
"I feel entirely different, to be honest," said Hardy. "For starters, this is only the second time in my UFC career that I've been on the undercard. My first fight at UFC 89 was an undercard fight and after that I was co-main event. I've never really had that build-up into the UFC to the top level. It's nice to be stepping down the card and let the big guys take the spotlight for a while. And changing my team has been a huge difference as well."
Hardy also told Ariel Helwani his vantage point for this fight isn't about 'must-win' even if he knows that's the reality. For Hardy, this is about proving his place, evidencing his growth and debuting a person he believes the world has not seen yet although he may look a little familiar.
"It's going to be an entirely different Dan Hardy. I've still got the same mentality that I always have. I still want to get in there and win the fight with strikes, but I have options now. I'm much more confident in every area."
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