It's been almost seven months since UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre had his way with Dan (The Outlaw) Hardy, time the bash Brit says he has used wisely to fix some gaping holes exposed in his game.
St-Pierre, arguably the world's best mixed martial artist, was successful on all 11 takedown attempts at UFC 111, achieving side control eight times and mount twice, according to FightMetric. He also took Hardy's back five times.
Taken out of his element, Hardy was unable to bring his biggest guns -- his fists -- into play. The Canadian outstruck Hardy 174 to 42 with a 40-4 edge in high-percentage strikes over the five rounds.
The judges scored the title fight a lopsided 50-43, 50-44 and 50-45 for St-Pierre.
Returning to the gym, Hardy (23-7 with one no contest) knew there was plenty of work to be done.
"Well, to be honest, there were a lot of things obviously that we highlighted -- the wrestling and the takedown defence certainly needed work," he told The Canadian Press. "And my offensive jiu-jitsu game as well . . . So really the fight was very one-sided and I was very disappointed in that."
Hardy, who splits his time between Los Angeles and his native Nottingham, worked on his jiu-jitsu in California with grappling guru Eddie Bravo. He's also looked to bolster his wrestling, strength and conditioning, and punching power.
"Now I've been back in the U.K. a while, I think my teammates have seen those improvements. So I certainly feel like the time was well spent and I feel moving forward I've got more to offer now."
Carlos (Natural Born Killer) Condit will put that to the test Saturday when the two meet in the UFC 120 co-main event at London's O2 Arena.
Condit (25-5) is a lanky former WEC champion who is 1-2 since joining the UFC. The resident of Albuquerque, N.M., lost a split decision to Martin Kampmann before defeating Jake Ellenberger and Canadian Rory MacDonald, rallying in both cases for the win.
"You can never count him out," Hardy said. "Some fighters are very difficult to break down, but once you've broken them down, it's easy pickings. Condit's very much the opposite.
"I think that (while) it's easy to break him early on in the fight, he gets his confidence back very quickly. You have to continue to keep him broken down and keep him under pressure. He's a durable opponent, he'll grit out two and a half rounds of a beating and then come back in the last two minutes. That's someone you've always got to be cautious of.
"But at the same time that does show me that he can be put in bad positions very often and quite easily and obviously that's what I plan on doing. I do think I've got the skills to put him away before he manages that comeback."
Said Condit: "It's called fighting. It's not called winning.
"Sometimes you're going to face adversity. Some guys crumble, some guys succumb to adversity and some guys thrive. It just shows the kind of person, the kind of fighter you are," he told a media conference call.
Despite the lopsided nature of the GSP loss, Hardy showed his character by refusing to tap out to a first-round armbar or fourth-round kimura. Hardy's face showed pure pain as the champion cranked his arm in ways that would make an orthopedic surgeon cringe. But he resisted and fought through it.
That defiance -- not to mention obvious high tolerance for pain -- may be what most remember about Hardy from that fight.
"My intention was just to give it everything I've got," Hardy explained. "For me tapping out was giving less than everything. And I don't think people were aware that I had that kind of mentality when I go into a fight. I just think a lot of people were surprised by it."
Taking a page out of Hardy's book, the 26-year-old Condit called Hardy out in advance of this fight.
"For one Hardy's got status in the UFC right now. He was the No. 1 contender. So a win over him would probably catapult me up the rankings," Condit said by way of explanation.
"But in addition to that, he's the kind of fighter that I want to fight. He puts on exciting fights, he comes to finish guys. I want to be in exciting fights, I want to give fans a show."
Hardy, 28, returned the compliment, almost.
"He is certainly an entertaining fighter to watch," he said of Condit. "No doubt, he's a smart guy.
"I just don't see what he's going to do, I don't think that's going to help him out in the fight, I really can't. I'm speaking as honestly as I can. I just don't see what he's got -- smarts or skills. I just think it's going to be a rough night for him."
Hardy hasn't spent all his time training. Fans will notice more ink when he enters the cage Saturday. He now sports a full sleeve on his right arm, a tribute to his grandfather on the back of one leg and the ska figure made famous by The Specials band on the other.
"I do have a little space left, for the moment," said Hardy, a former art student whose American graphic designer-girlfriend Elizabeth Holloway is equally inked.
Tattoos were a sore spot prior to UFC 111 when Hardy's stomach tattoo was airbrushed off the event poster.
The UFC thought it was anti-Chinese and, looking to enter the Chinese market, had it removed so as not to offend more than a billion new fight fans.
Hardy was unimpressed at the time, noting the tattoo was a Tibetan Buddhist prayer written in Sanskrit which he describes as "basically just like a prayer for focus."
On Saturday, he will walk out to his normal "England Belongs to Me" by Cock Sparrer. The music has become a Hardy trademark -- along with the red mohawk -- with UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta seeking assurances recently that Hardy was sticking with it.
"You can't upset the bosses," said Hardy, who has recorded his own version of the song with the vintage punk band.
Upsetting the opponent is another thing, although Hardy has been largely subdued in recent months. One of the UFC's smarter competitors, he no doubt realizes that the fight following a comprehensive beating is no time to brag.
"I've said one or two things but for this fight the talk's going to be done with fists," said Hardy. "He called me out and that was the biggest mistake of his career. I think he thinks the fight is going to be very different that how it is and he's going to be bullied for as long as he stays conscious and that's all there is to it.
"It could be a rough 60 seconds or it could be rough 15 minutes. It all depends on how well he takes a punch."