Heather Hardy is thinking long and hard about a full-time run in mixed martial arts.
The undefeated professional boxer (22-0) has gone 2-1 in MMA since making her debut with Bellator back in 2017. Heading into her fourth MMA fight at Bellator 220, Hardy has a lot to think about.
“The biggest challenge is bouncing back-and-forth. To have to readjust to boxing and readjust back to MMA,” she confessed. “I can’t expect to go very far with either sport bouncing back-and-forth.”
“I’m not really promoted in boxing right now and it’s a dangerous sport to be in when you’re not protected. It’s been on my mind heavy. Do I just want to sink in. If Bellator is going to invest in me, do I want to sink in the last year-and-a-half or so seeing how far I can get. Not just doing one fight here and there, but actually moving up the ranks,” she continued. “It’s a decision I’ll have to sit down with my team and think about after this fight.”
Hardy, 37, was not shy about discussing the seedy business practices of boxing.
“The truth of the matter is if Ruiz didn’t knock out Joshua, he wasn’t winning the fight. I think everyone knows that. He could’ve knocked him down eight times, but if that fight went to a decision, Joshua was leaving with those belts. Boxing is a business before it’s a sport,” she argued. “No business is run as dirty as boxing.
“Someone once compared boxing to a bad boyfriend or girlfriend. That is exactly what it is. Your boyfriend cheats on you 1000 times, you give him chance after chance and keep coming back. It’s that same disappointing phone call, that same disappointing news,” Hardy added. “It’s not for a lack of trying. I had a great promoter in Lou Dibella who fought hard for women, but he couldn’t fight alone.”
Some fans, fighters, and media members are quick to condemn how MMA promoters run their business. From Hardy’s experience, however, it’s levels ahead of boxing.
“In MMA, it doesn’t matter how much bulls—t goes on behind closed doors,” she argued. “They make good fights. You watch a fight and you’re left wondering who might pull it off.”
Every time Hardy competes in MMA, she has to part ways with her longtime boxing staff. “It’s almost enough that every fight it brings tears to my eyes,” she admitted. “Devon Cormack, who is my main coach for boxing, has been in my corner since he wrapped my hands for my very first amateur fight.”
“To not be able to have him shouting in my ear... It breaks my heart,” Hardy expressed. “These are the guys who slummed it out with me. I’d pay them $50 at the end of the night and maybe buying a pizza to share. To not have them walk with me to the Garden is more emotional than anything else.”
Hardy’s MMA career is firmly in the hands of the Longo-Serra camp and Hardy is grateful for that. “Ray Longo has his team that he is comfortable with. He has to be comfortable,” she said. “He doesn’t want another voice there.”
Hardy fights Taylor Turner (3-5) at Bellator 220 on Saturday, June 14. The event takes place at Madison Square Garden in New York and is headlined by a Bellator welterweight title fight between Rory MacDonald and Neiman Gracie.