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Dan Hardy to re-enter USADA testing pool to ‘have the option’ of UFC return

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“The Outlaw” could be inching his way closer to a return to the UFC.

UFC Fight Night: Overeem v Oleinik Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Dan Hardy, 37, is taking the first step toward possibly making a UFC comeback.

The former UFC welterweight and current color commentator said on the Joe Rogan Experience MMA Show last week that he is planning to re-enter the USADA drug testing pool.

“Right now what I’m going to do is get back in the USADA testing pool,” Hardy said (transcript via MMA Junkie). “I have to be in the pool for four months. Once I’m in the pool for four months, then I have the option to fight if I choose to.”

USADA did not immediately return a request for comment Monday evening.

According to the UFC anti-doping policy, an athlete who retires or has “otherwise ceased to have a contractual relationship with UFC due to Athlete-Initiated Inactivity” must complete a six-month period of testing before being able to return to competition. Hardy’s claim of four months is inaccurate; that was the old rule changed in 2017.

The UFC may exempt an athlete from the six-month rule “in exceptional circumstances or where the strict application of that rule would be manifestly unfair to an athlete,” per the policy.

Hardy first joined the USADA testing pool in 2017; it is unclear when he dropped out of it.

Hardy (25-10), who currently serves as a color commentator for European and some other international UFC shows, hasn’t fought in nearly seven years. The Englishman stopped fighting after being diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, a condition “in which there is an extra electrical pathway in the heart,” according to medlineplus.gov.

Hardy, who has never informed the UFC of his official retirement, has long discussed a potential return to the sport. He was medically cleared to fight in 2017, but the USADA testing-pool development is the furthest Hardy has gotten to actually stepping back into the Octagon.

Hardy said USADA’s whereabouts system could pose some problems due to his travel schedule. USADA, the UFC’s anti-doping partner, requires athletes to submit online where they will be at any given time.

“The problem is that I’m on the road all the time,” Hardy said. ... “I don’t know exactly how it works, but as far as I know you have to give (USADA) three addresses. These are the places you’re most likely to be at. And if you’re not at any of those places, you have to let them know where you are. I’m always in a different place.”

Hardy said if he does commit to a return to the Octagon, it will only be for one fight. He said he would like to fight “one of the veterans of the game, someone who’s not too concerned about the rankings.”

“I feel very selfish thinking about fighting again,” Hardy said. “What I’ve realized since I’ve been fighting is it’s not just me coming out of retirement; it’s my whole family. I was there when (Darren) Till got knocked out in London, I was there when Gunnar Nelson got knocked out in Glasgow. I see the reactions of their families, I know what I put my family through.”

Hardy, who nearly reached the pinnacle of the sport when he challenged Georges St-Pierre for the UFC welterweight title in 2011, holds wins over Duane Ludwig, Mike Swick, and Daniel Weichel. He is riding a two-fight winning streak.