Wrestling in the U.K. isn’t up to the level it is in the United States. That is a fact, but it’s one borne out of a complete lack of wrestling in the British sporting curriculum. American fighters have always benefitted from having everything from wrestling programs for children all the way up to NCAA competition and the Olympics, but Dan Hardy for one feels that the U.K. is changing and the Rough House, where he trains, will show that in upcoming bouts.
“People are talking about how we don’t have any wrestling here, that the Rough House can’t handle wrestlers, but if you look at a couple of our last fights – Georges St-Pierre and Josh Koscheck – you have two of the very best wrestlers in the division there.”
There has been a lot of discussion by MMA fans lately that wrestlers are returning to dominance, which paints a reflection of the early UFC days when Mark Coleman and Randy Couture started to win fights with a wealth of experience on the mat. Hardy doesn’t quite think that it will be a whitewash; he just feels that camps need to continue to evolve and shift some of the focus specifically to cover that aspect of the game.
“Outside of any specific opponent, I have been focusing diligently on my wrestling and jiu-jitsu since the Georges St-Pierre fight. I spent a few months in the U.S. working on just that. Even during the preparations for Carlos Condit, I have been focusing on evening out my skills more in all areas.”
Due to the nature of mixed martial arts, many fighters have to concentrate on elements that don’t come natural to them, but it’s not about moving completely away from what made them successful in the first place.
“The Rough House is more of a striking team, always has been, so most of our training is geared around striking,” said Hardy. “But since we have all had run-ins with core wrestlers, we have tried to even it out and now have a mixed approach with much better coaching in that area than ever before.”
Despite those aforementioned encounters with wrestlers, Hardy feels that the camp has been upbeat in preparations for the upcoming bouts, and expects that these adjustments will pay dividends for the fighters in the long term.
“The mood in the camp is great, despite the recent losses. Even after Ross Pearson’s fight, we put it all behind us and have come back stronger than ever. The UFC has given Andre Winner and Nick Osipczak another opportunity at UFC 122 in Germany and both are excited. We have all renewed the camp and there is a really positive vibe. Jimmy Wallhead is ready for his fight in Bellator and the guys will be good to go at UFC 122 just after. We’re just pushing forward and it feels good.”