English welterweight Dan (The Outlaw) Hardy is playing the tourist these days, driving down the east coast of the U.S. with girlfriend Elizabeth.
So far they have visited her parents in Virginia, and Hardy has taken time in North Carolina to have a tattoo done on the back of his leg in honour of his grandfather who died in February. The 27-year-old from Nottingham is enjoying the good life after a spartan 14-week fight camp, tweeting about Applebee's fish and chips and buying $45 worth of junk food.
Hardy has also mulled over his loss to UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre in the main event of UFC 111 on March 27 in Newark.
Despite the lopsided 50-43, 50-44, 50-45 decision, the brash Brit sees plenty of positives.
While taken down at will, Hardy showed enormous resolve in withstanding St-Pierre's ground attack. He refused to tap in the face of two nasty submissions. And the charismatic fighter used the main event spotlight, which came with a three-part TV special, to his advantage.
Hardy, who manages his own career with the help of his father, may have lost but he carved himself a bigger niche in the mixed martial arts world. The Dan Hardy brand burns brighter as result of UFC 111.
"I'm inundated with emails and messages. It's been quite overwhelming actually," he told The Canadian Press in an interview from Savannah, Ga.
"I wouldn't change it for the world," added Hardy. "Even the result now. I'm a firm believer in everything happens for a reason and obviously I'm not ready to be the champion just yet. But there are a lot of positives to gain from it. Obviously one of them is the fans are now a little more aware of me and the fans that were aware of me before now, most of them, have a new respect for what I'm willing to do when I'm in there."
While some observers saw St-Pierre's wrestling-heavy game plan as sound strategy against a dangerous standup fighter like Hardy, the champion came in for some criticism in some quarters for his decision not to stand and bang.
One senses Hardy is biting his tongue when asked about it. The Englishman prefaces his comments by saying the fight is done and "I don't want to say anything to disrespect him."
(In typical Hardy bravado, he adds: "I'll wait until I'm matched up against him in the future to do that.")
"But right now, the way I see the fight, in my opinion, there's winning and winning," added Hardy, who didn't attend the post-fight news conference. "And like I said before, my intention when I get into the cage is to beat my opponent, to put a beating on my opponent and take the fight from him.
"Obviously GSP won, you look at the scorecard and he was dominant in his victory. But I didn't feel like I was beaten up in any way, I wasn't injured, I wasn't hurt. He took the win from me but he didn't take the fight from me.
"I wasn't beaten mentally or physically. I don't know, it must be frustrating for the fans and it's frustrating for me because I know that GSP has the kind of potential to make more of a fight out of it. But he's very good at wrestling and he chooses to stick with the safe option to keep his belt. I mean you can't hold it against him. It's not what I would do in his situation but I'm not in his situation right now, so I can't really make those calls."
However you look at it, the victory was total.
St-Pierre took Hardy down 11 times and connected on 59 of 79 significant strikes, according to FightMetric which tracks mixed martial arts bouts. Compare that to Hardy's four of 27.
FightMetric gave the champion 84 out of a 100 in its Total Performance Review -- which it compares to a football quarterback's rating. Hardy got a 14.
"It was just a frustrating fight," Hardy said. "Obviously it highlighted some shortfalls in my game and some things that I'm going to be able to dedicate myself more to now in the hopes of getting the (championship) belt at some point. But I'm in no way discouraged by it. I feel very positive."
Hardy (23-7 with one no contest) acknowledges there were errors in his game plan. He expected St-Pierre to "be a little more aggressive" on the feet which he hoped would play into his counter-punching strengths.
And in reviewing tape of the fight afterwards, he realized he had not fully figured out St-Pierre's takedown style.
"Normally I'm not too bad at stopping takedowns but obviously Georges is a great wrestler and quite unorthodox as well. . . He shoots with his head to the opposite side and he hooks your front leg with his forearm which is not something I've experienced in the past."
As for refusing to tap to an armbar in the first round and kimura in the fourth, Hardy says he decided after suffering three submission losses earlier in his career that he would not quit again.
"I'm just a very, very stubborn person. I always have been. . . . That's all it is really, it's just stubbornness and the unwillingness to accept the fact that I've been beaten. The ambar and the kimura were both close, but not close enough to do the damage, so obviously not close enough to tap. If I can tap, I can still hit you."
Hardy already has wrestling coaches in place to help plug the holes in his game when he returns to training. But for now, he's on vacation.
"Physically I'm fine, I've got a few aches and pains that I've been carrying through the camp, and they'll heal over time. More than anything I just need a break mentally, I need to kind of step back a little bit and have a breather and enjoy living a bit."
Hardy is hearing rumours of a UFC card in London later this year, which could mark his return to action. After his holiday, he plans to be in Montreal to cheer on friend and training partner Paul (Semtex) Daley against Josh Koscheck at UFC 113 on May 8.
"I'll just be there for support and to give Koscheck a smile and a wink when I see him," he said mischievously.
Then it will be back to refining his own game.
"I certainly don't feel like I'm miles away from winning the belt," he said. "I know I've got work to do but I'm confident that it's within my ability to do it and get the belt. I'm happy with the feedback that I've got after the fight but not happy with the result."