Monday, July 18, 2011

More than a Mohawk - Dan "The Outlaw" Hardy Part 2.

(Video Credit;  Dan Hardy/Rough House UFC 105 After-Party, Hard Rock Cafe, Manchester, England.)
Posted: by T.F.M. Staff / Written: by N. Brooks. April 3, 2011.

(Continued from Part 1...)  UFC 105 took place November 14th, 2009 and once again Dan allowed me to work with him to produce his entrance bandana for his fight against Mike Swick.  This time Dan took on artistic responsibility and designed the bandana himself.  In my opinion, Dan’s UFC 105 bandana is the best design yet and it was very apparent that “The Outlaw” had some artistic skills!  I flew to Manchester, England for the event and I must say, “I love England.”  I wouldn’t want to live there but it is truly an amazing place.  For a country that rains so much and sees so little sunlight, the English find many ways to make life seem quite bright.  When I arrived in England I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I was however extremely eager to see Dan amongst his own people.  It was something that I knew Dan held very close and dear to his heart and I truly was excited to be a spectator to that passion we all see in his fight introductions when his country is announced.  Anyone who has been witness to a Bruce Buffer/Dan Hardy introduction knows exactly what I am describing.  “Hailing from Nottingham, ENGLAND!”  As a fan, when I see Dan get right up in the camera’s face and literally scream “ENGLAND!”  It feels like the decision has already been made, Dan is going to take his country and put it on his back and carry it with him where ever he goes and when its fight time, it’s like he’s got the entire weight of his country on his back and he is going to release that power onto his opponent.  It’s exhilarating to see and the fact that I was going to witness this live for the first time was indescribable.

The day of the fight I stopped by Dan’s hotel room to drop off his bandanas and to give him my last words of encouragement.  That is something that has become a tradition for me as since that day Dan “The Outlaw” Hardy has not fought without receiving a few words of motivation and well wishes from me.  It’s something I will do for the rest of Dan’s career whether he wants to hear what I have to say or not.  Everyone knew what was at stake with this fight and I must say Dan didn’t seem nervous at all.  He sat there in his hotel bed with his notebook computer on his lap just chilling-out listening to me and what I was saying.  You would have never thought that in just a few hours, Dan was about to have the most important fight of his life with one of the toughest fighters in the world and with a title shot looming in the background.  Rather, it felt like we were all just resting for a bit before we go out for dinner.  It was quite calming.  When I left his hotel room to head to the event, the last thing I said to him was, “Dan, the next time I see you, you will be the UFC’s welterweight #1 contender.”

On my way to the arena I met up with some local Dan Hardy fans, most of which were a part of the “Hardy Party Tour” from UFC 99 in Germany.  They were a great group of people who love to have a good time and are huge UFC fans and most notably Dan Hardy fans.  I consider them all till this day my friends.  They helped me hand out as many Dan Hardy bandanas to fans as we possibly could and then entered the arena.  The arena had great energy.  As a Canadian, I have been lucky enough to attend many UFC events within Canada and feel the energy of the crowd when cheering for home grown talent and in England that night it was very comparable if not more electric.  By the time Dan’s fight occurred, it was already official; UFC 105 was a huge success.  Watching Dan walk to the cage wearing a Fight Mafia bandana live was extremely cool because this time I could see all the fans in the crowd as well sporting the bandanas and it seemed like there were thousands of them.  In real life I was still just a guy in his basement who knew nothing about anything but at that moment I felt like something (from what I hear, it’s what success feels like)…It was another one of those surreal moments.  Dan put on in my opinion the performance of his life and decisively beat Mike Swick.  It was a three round war but Dan somewhat made an “On-Fire” Mike Swick look adolescent.  After the fight, Dan passed me on his way to the dressing room and I grabbed him and said “You got your f*cking title shot man!”  He grabbed my face like he was going to pop my head off and replied “Yes we did mate!”  I was so happy for him and even more than that I was extremely honored to have the opportunity that he had given me.

Dan had committed to attending a Dan Hardy UFC 105 after-party at the Hard Rock Cafe.  The event was sponsored by MMA Unlimited Magazine (a former top UK MMA magazine that no longer exists and is quite missed) and many fans were eager to get a close up glimpse of “The Outlaw.”  He asked me to come along with him and of course I accepted.  I asked him how we were going to get there and he told me that it wasn’t far and that we would walk.  I thought he was crazy.  I remember thinking to myself, “Doesn’t he know who he is?”  “As soon as we step outside the hotel he is going to get mulled for autographs and photos and we will never make it to the party.”  Anyways, I trusted his judgment and thought famous or not, famous people walk places too so we began heading on our couple of blocks journey to downtown Manchester.  It didn’t take too long before people began recognizing him and a 10 minute walk turned into an hour.  Dan didn’t turn down one fan for an autograph or photo.  I quickly turned into a photographer for people all wanting a picture with Dan.  It was actually pretty fun.  People were running across the street at times yelling “Holy shit, its Dan hardy!”  Before too long we arrived at the after-party and the rest of my England trip consisted of beer, a couple of cab rides, a long flight home and stories just like this one I am writing about right now.

Soon after I returned home from England, my incredible good fortune in the apparel industry started to take a terribly nasty turn.  No longer were opportunities just falling into my lap and it was very apparent, just being a guy in his basement was really starting to hinder my progress.  To run a successful operation it takes a staff of individuals who are qualified to do a plethora of educated tasks.  I had none of that nor did I even know that this would eventually become my full-time career.  People like me generally have jobs, usually a couple of them.  A career was a pipe dream for people like me but I was determined to make a serious go of this Fight Mafia thing.  Anyways, shit started hitting the fan and I found myself in a mini online scandal that was beginning to get a little traction.  At the time I really didn't know what to think of all the attention my situation was getting.  To be perfectly honest, it was the dumbest thing I have ever been apart of to date, and I have been apart of some really dumb shit!  Nobody was ever supposed to care about anything that I said nor did.  Regardless, let the truth be told...I was knowingly out of my league and well...bad publicity truly is good publicity.  In the end, everything got sorted out but whats important is the first person to contact me to make sure I was okay and not feeling overwhelmed was Dan "The Outlaw" Hardy.  (To be continued...)