Greg Hardy wants to become a UFC champion: 'I'm here to take everything'

SAN ANTONIO – Love him or hate him, Greg Hardy is in it for the long haul.

He takes on Juan Adams at UFC on ESPN 4 on Saturday at AT&T Center in San Antonio. It will be just his third UFC fight, and already he is eyeing championship gold.

“I am going for the heavyweight gold,” Hardy told MMA Junkie after a Wednesday workout. “I’m here to take everything that everybody loves and adores and put it around my waist.”

Hardy (4-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC) has split his first two appearances in the UFC. He had a disqualification loss to Allen Crowder at UFC on ESPN+ 1 in his official promotional debut, but followed it up with a first-round TKO win over Dmitrii Smoliakov at UFC on ESPN+ 8.

He once again will be featured on the main card – his first two fights were co-main events. And his placement high up in the billing so early in his UFC career has brought criticism.

“The Prince of War” knows the kind of spotlight on him every time he fights. But he said he sees it as an opportunity to show the world what he is capable of.

“My fights are highlighted – they’re not the most talented people in the ring,” Hardy said. “I’m not fighting 50-0. I’m not fighting Floyd Mayweather-caliber type of guys, or the Cain Velasquezes out there. But every fight is a showcase, so I’m looking for the finish. I don’t have the privilege of going out there, trying things and making mistakes and errors. I’m coming to execute. I’m coming to finish, the best I know how, with the best tools that I have.”

In Adams (5-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC), Hardy gets arguably the toughest test of his young MMA career – and an opponent who has not been shy about how he feels about him.

Hardy, however, doesn’t seem fazed by any of it. When asked if Adams confronted him at all when seeing him around at the fighter hotel or during media obligations, Hardy said he does his talking in the cage.

“I don’t think that would be smart for anybody,” Hardy said. “I send my messages in the ring. I used to send them on the field. When you’re the baddest man on the freakin’ planet, you don’t have to talk trash (or) coax people into fighting before the fight. They lock us in a cage.”

This is nothing new for the former Dallas Cowboys defensive end. He understands it’s part of the game and welcomes it.

“(MMA is) kind of being like in the NFL – it’s an everyday job,” Hardy said. “I’m used to it, and it comes with the territory. You can’t have half the planet love you and expect the rest to follow suit. It’s a checks and balances kind of thing, and it’s a democracy. It’s their right, it’s their purpose in life (to dislike me), and I love it.

“We’re here to break faces. This is not a nice guys sport, and I’m a nice guy until they lock the cage. When I’m in the cage, I’m coming to break your face in every single way possible. I’m thinking about learning some capoeira, all that stuff. I want to break people down in beautiful, phenomenal ways, and it’s coming soon.”

The DQ loss to Crowder had some questioning Hardy’s experience and cardio. But since the win over Smoliakov, he thinks he’s come a long way in a hurry, and it’s all starting to come together.

“I’m a more calm, more happy, more deadly version of myself,” Hardy said. “I found the peace in violence. I found my spot. I found my niche, and I feel good about it. Nobody can take it away.”

Hardy’s experience as a pro football player was invaluable, and he said he understands the kind of mindset he needs to excel in MMA. Fight by fight, he thinks he is getting there.

“A long time ago, I found my place,” Hardy said. “I found a home amongst the elite in the world, the nation, the 1 percent of the 1 percent. To be there, to be a part of that club, you had to be in that zone. You had to be in that zone consistently, every day, with half the world shunning you, looking down on you, hating your team.

“It’s a place you had to go, and I’m slowly but surely finding that place in MMA and fight sports, and I find myself every now and then getting into that zone.”

For more on upcoming UFC on ESPN 4, check out the UFC schedule.

Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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