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Dan Hardy Revels in Newfound Spotlight at UFC 111 Weigh-Ins

Dan HardyNEWARK, N.J. -- Dan Hardy was so little known on the international MMA scene when he made his UFC debut less than 18 months ago that the fight didn't even find its way on to the UFC 89 broadcast.

Somehow, in the impossibly short span between then and now, he is within 24 hours of possibly unseating the man who many consider the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world to become the welterweight champion. And Hardy is loving every single minute of the wild ride.

The British import basked in the spotlight one last time before it counts for real, entertaining the crowd at the UFC 111 weigh-ins. Walking in wearing a T-shirt with the words "I HATE DAN HARDY" across it and with red contact lenses in his eyes, the Mohawked, heat-seeking Hardy appeared raring to go.

"I'm just excited, so excited to be here," Hardy said. "It doesn't matter whether you're here to support me or Georges. As long as you shout and make noise tomorrow, I'm cool."

Hardy was so animated during his brief stretch of time on the stage he even caught the attention of his opponent, the usually stone-faced George St. Pierre. As St. Pierre weighed in on the scale, Hardy bounced alongside him just a few feet away, sometimes shadow-boxing, other times just jumping in place, but always with St. Pierre in his cross-sights. As the state athletic commissioned double-checked St. Pierre's weight, the champ couldn't help but steal a sideways glance at the hypercharged challenger.

When the duo squared off for a faceoff pose, Hardy barked at St. Pierre, and the champ responded with words of his own, though what they said will remain at least for now a secret between the two.

It was the first real genuine show of emotion for either during fight week. Hardy, a loquacious speaker who is notorious for prickling his opponents during the build-up of a fight, was uncharacteristically quiet about St. Pierre for most of the weeks leading up to this one.

On Thursday, he took a few slight shots at St. Pierre (19-2), saying he stuck to a script both with his words and his recent game plans (some took it to mean Hardy felt St. Pierre was in fact, a bit boring). But Hardy noted that any attempt to get under St. Pierre's skin would likely be an exercise in futility.

"I do like the banter, I like the back and forth and I like to see my opponent get a little bit upset, especially when they're on camera and it looks like their head is about to explode at any moment," said Hardy, who is 23-6 with one no contest. "That's exciting for me because I'm always laid back like this, so if I could see my opponent getting annoyed, I keep poking them to get that reaction. I love that. But you can't be like that with GSP because he's not that kind of guy, he doesn't react to those things. Or he doesn't show it. He hides it very well."

St. Pierre for the most part seemed unbothered.

"I don't care about that, I don't care about the statistics, I don't care about nothing," said St. Pierre. "Just to see the people here pump me up so much for the fight. I'm going to have the best performance of my career. I'm ready for it."

With 24 hours until fight time, Hardy's unlikely to be worried about playing mind games now. In fact, if he was, he missed one opportunity, drinking an orange Gatorade on stage shortly after weighing in (the sports drink is a sponsor of St. Pierre's). Now it is all about the excitement of the camp. After 14 weeks of preparation, after weeks away from home, Hardy is simply chomping at the bit to put everything he's practiced into action and possibly pulling off a stunning upset.

"It's going to be explosive," he said. "I'm ready to go 25 minutes, and I can't wait."

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