UK MMA veteran Dan Hardy may spend his professional hours watching and commentating on fights rather than participating in them these days, but he certainly hasn’t forgotten what it means to challenge for a UFC title.
After Hardy became the first Englishman to challenge for UFC gold when he fought 170lb champ Georges St Pierre at UFC 111, his friend and countryman Michael Bisping will become just the second England representative in history to fight for a title in MMA’s top promotion when he faces 185lb champ Luke Rockhold at UFC 199 this weekend.
“I was fortunate enough to fight my way to a title shot and get that privilege but it’s evaded Michael Bisping for so long and I can’t think of a fighter, particularly from the UK, that’s more deserving right now,” Hardy said. “It’s a special moment, not only for Michael but for the country and all the mixed martial arts fans.”
He added: “Fighting for a UFC title is a special moment for any fighter in their career, whether you take it on short notice or you have a full training camp for it. Michael Bisping’s been sacrificing for ten years now and he is ready for this opportunity.”
Bisping came up short when he first faced Rockhold back in November 2014, losing via submission. But he has gone unbeaten since that loss and will almost certainly come into this short-notice fight (Bisping is replacing an injured Chris Weidman) looking as good as ever; especially after beating former middleweight champ and all-time great Anderson Silva in his last outing.
“He’s always in shape, there’s no question about that,” Hardy said. “He trains year round and when he’s out of shape he would put most fighters to shame with his conditioning.”
UFC 199 takes place June 4th at The Forum in Inglewood, California.