Hardy takes on former Bellator heavyweight champion and current UFC heavyweight contender Alexander Volkov at UFC Moscow on Saturday at the CSKA Arena, and "The Prince of War" admitted he was surprised by the warmth of the reception he received upon his arrival in Russia.
"This is a great country," he said.
"I've been enjoying myself since I got here. It's been a great surprise to see how cool and fun and excited everybody is about the fight."
The warm reception has contrasted with some of the reaction he receives back home in the United States, where his controversial past has continued to follow him into his UFC career.
Hardy said he's at peace with being someone who divides opinion and said he will just focus on those who have chosen to help him and support him on his journey in mixed martial arts.
"People are not so nice all the time, but you can't always win everybody over," he said.
"What I am going to do is win the people that want to stick with me over, by showing that I am one of the best in the world and doing what I say I'm going to do, every day of the week."
The latest opportunity to do that comes this weekend when he shoots his shot at the big time against Volkov, who has operated at the top level of the UFC's heavyweight division for the past couple of years.
Taking on 37-fight veteran "Drago" after a full camp would have been a stern test of Hardy's credentials after just seven professional fights, but the former Dallas Cowboys star is doing it on just two weeks' notice.
"I don't know if I can say this – it takes a whole lot of balls and a whole lot of heart, which is what I'm going to bring to the table, man," he said.
"Plain and simple, I took this fight because I wanted to fight the best. I've been training for three years, and I'm prepared to go in and win. I'm prepared to go in and battle until one of us falls down and doesn't get back up.
"I think that's what you guys love, and I think that's what the Americans love, even though they don't love me. I think that's what everybody wants, and that's what I'm here to deliver."
As well as a big performance, Hardy says he hopes to prove to the world that he truly belongs among the best of the best in the UFC's biggest weight class. And while he admits he's not overly worried about where he's ranked, he said he just wants the tests to keep getting bigger and tougher until he reaches the top of the sport.
"I don't really concern myself with what's going to happen with the rankings, but I am pretty confident that I want to fight someone really tough next," he said.
"I want the competition to keep coming, I want the fights to get better, more bloody and more war."