Martin McNeil, SB Nation
So how did Dan Hardy celebrate his UFC-saving victory over Duane Ludwig at UFC 146 in May?
The Brit went to live for two weeks away from the outside world in the Amazon rain forest in Peru, naturally.
"More than anything I just wanted to get out of Vegas and the routine I'd been in for the past year," said Hardy (24-10 MMA record, 5-4 UFC), who takes on Amir Sadollah at UFC on FUEL TV 5 this Saturday in his hometown of Nottingham, England.
"Obviously I'd spent a lot of time in the gym working on things and I really need to get away somewhere that was entirely different. And Peru, I've always been interested in going there. There were a lot of things about the culture that I was interested in and experiencing. The idea of going in and living on a retreat in the Amazon sounded real nice."
But the barren departure — which included lots of time spent reading, walking around the jungle and mediating — from life in the fast lane in Las Vegas, was admittedly a strange feeling for Hardy.
"It was awesome. But it was very strange. One Saturday I was at the MGM fighting in front of 15,000 people and on TV, and the next one I'm living in a wooden hut in the amazon watching spiders the size of my hand crawl up the wall," said Hardy, who took the trip with a friend. "Two extremes pretty much."
One of the highlights of his Peruvian adventure was his encounter with Ayahuasca — a unique concoction made up of vines and leaves that contain hallucinogenic properties that are part of a religious sacrament.
"It’s very awaking. It’s a 5-6 hour, an intense lesson about your self," said Hardy, who performed the sacrament three times on his trip, but said fans should not worry because there is nothing illegal about Ayahuasca and it will not produce a failed drug test.
"You go into the ceremony with questions in mind, something that you want to ask yourself. People also use it for addictions and depression. It can help a lot of things out. For me it was just to answer questions about my future. The direction I should be continuing my life. I got all the answers that I needed.
"In my opinion it would help everyone, I think that everyone should experience it at some point."
For Hardy, the spiritual journey to Peru has helped him create a new line of thinking for his fighting career.
"I’m just taking one fight at a time now," said Hardy, who prior to his victory over Ludwig had lost four fights in a row and was in danger of being cut by the UFC.
"I dropped a couple of fights and I started to reassess where I was at. I was looking too far ahead. I've got to focus on what's right in front of me. As far as my next fight after this I really don't know. I'm kind of treating each fight like it's my last."
Hardy, who for the second straight camp trained with members of Frank Mir’s fight team in preparation for Sadollah, said he’s not thinking about retiring, but instead centralizing all his energy on his current opponent.
"I train so hard during training camp. If during training camp I'm thinking about doing this 8-15 more times, it's kind of depressing," he said. "But if I approach the training camp like this is the last time I'm ever going to do it, then I give it everything I got.
"I go into the fight putting less pressure on myself and knowing this is my last opportunity to prove to everybody what I can do. I did the same thing with the Ludwig fight. It's just a way of applying myself the appropriate way during the fight."
Hardy says he doesn’t take anything away from Sadollah (6-3 MMA & UFC record), The Ultimate Fighter Season No. 7 winner, but says if he comes out and fights his fight — it will be his hand raised in his hometown.
"We sat and watched all of his fights before training camp. The only thing I thought to myself is that if I don't show up in great condition and fight hard for three rounds then he can beat me," Hardy said of Sadollah, who scored a split decision over Jorge Lopez in his last bout after losing to Ludwig in his previous contest.
"In my opinion that's the only way he can beat me. I feel like I'm more athletic, I'm stronger, I've got more experience. I can beat him to the punch every time, I know that. The only danger is me showing up and not taking him serious. Showing up and not being as focused and determined to beat him as I need to be. He's the kind of guy that will keep walking at you until the end of the bell. He'll continue to fight, continue pushing forward. He'll just wear you down. My main concern was being in the best shape I've ever been in, to go three rounds hard and be able to push the pace on him."
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