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Dan Hardy back in training; UFC return imminent?

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Dan ‘The Outlaw’ Hardy hasn’t been seen in the UFC Octagon since being diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome following a September 2012 win over Amir Sadalloh. The UFC initially encouraged him to retire but further tests have gone well and Hardy is now cleared for return. The UFC has said it expected to see him back at some point in 2015 and now some news from a Nottingham training room suggests that Hardy is gearing up for war in the not too distant future.

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Premier kickboxing league GLORY World Series today announced that this Friday's Superfight Series 20 card will air on the CBS Sports Network on Saturday night at 8pm ET/5pm PT.

GLORY's original arrangement with CBS Sports had the network airing the Superfight Series cards one week after they took place, so to have the broadcast moved forward to a mere 24 hours tape-delay is a big result for the organization and the fans.

One of the card's most interesting fights will see the young British prospect Chad Sugden make his official GLORY debut. He faces the Turkish welterweight Atakan Arslan, currently ranked at #10 in the official contender lists.

What makes Sugden so interesting is that he is just 20 years old (he turns 21 in April) yet he has amassed considerable international experience and caught the eye of experienced observers. In 2013, the ISKA, one of kickboxing's oldest and most prestigious sanctioning bodies, made him ‘Fighter of the Year 2013'.

Sugden's father was a world champion in WKA Kickboxing (the long-pants version of kickboxing which was a spin-off from karate) and has trained Chad since the age of five. His siblings are also fighters; one of them - Regis - is with BAMMA, the UK's top domestic promotion.

The family is from the Nottingham area, which is also home to several of the MMA world's household names. Chad has had the advantage of training with big-name international professionals who have in turn wanted to utilize his stand-up skills for sharp sparring.

Most recently Sugden was training with Dan ‘The Outlaw' Hardy, with the former welterweight contender apparently getting himself back on the road to full fitness with a view to re-entering the UFC Octagon this year.

"I have done a bit of sparring with Paul [Semtex] Daley, Andre Winner and Dan Hardy. It is good having those guys nearby, though obviously they are more MMA-oriented so it's not always worth them training stand-up with me because they are preparing for a different kind of fight," he says.

"I sparred with Dan about two weeks ago. He was headed out to Poland to train with some of their UFC guys and he wanted to sharpen up and get some quality stand-up sparring in. he's looking alright, he is getting back into shape.

"I didn't know he was back in training until about a month ago when I saw him in the gym. He's so well-spoken and such a nice guy in person, it's funny because when you see him in the cage he is so aggressive, you would never think he was like that."

Sugden says Hardy is hoping for "one or two more fights" in the UFC but is unsure if he will fight as a welterweight or a lightweight. Sugden personally doubts Hardy could make lightweight (70kgs/155lbs) "because he's a pretty stocky guy".

GLORY Superfight Series 20 is also airing via online pay-per-view priced at $9.99, for those who want to watch the event live. A separate stream for GLORY 20 DUBAI is also available and is also priced at $9.99

Hardy will be in Poland to commentate on the UFC Fight Night 64: Gonzaga vs. CroCop event taking place on Saturday April 11 in the city of Krakow. Mirko ‘CroCop’ headlines in an attempt to score revenge on Gabriel Gonzaga for an infamous 2007 knockout loss. US viewers can watch live via UFC Fight Pass.