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‘I work for MMA before I work for the UFC’ - Dan Hardy offers more details on split with promotion

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After making a name for himself in the UFC, Hardy’s looking to get back into fisticuffs and is fielding offers elsewhere.

Dan Hardy during broadcast duties on UFC Fight Island in 2020.
Where will the former UFC welterweight land next?
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Having joined the promotion all the way back in 2008 as an active fighter on the UFC roster, Dan Hardy eventually became a fixture of the company’s international events—working as a commentator after health concerns sidelined his athletic career. But after a series of events that involved an intense disagreement with Herb Dean and a backstage incident with a UFC PR rep, Hardy has found himself working outside the confines of the Octagon for the first time in over a decade.

Exactly what happened in that second incident, that directly preceded his removal from the booth, has remained a bit of a mystery, however. The UFC has yet to comment on the matter and, as long as Hardy was still under contract with the promotion, he was staying fairly mum. Now that that’s no longer the case, though, Hardy gave a few more details on exactly how and why he believes his relationship with the UFC soured. To hear him tell it, in a recent interview with MMA Fighting, Hardy feels the confrontation that led to his dismissal was less about that single incident than a relationship that was slowly eroding.

“Something else that I said, which may have led to this situation,” Hard explained, speaking of the confrontation with Herb Dean, “was when I spoke to the UFC after the Dean circumstance. I said, ‘Please don’t forget, I work for mixed martial arts before I work for the UFC.’ And I think that kind of burned a little bit in their minds, because when you work for the UFC, they want you to be UFC through and through, and I’m a grass roots fighter, and I’ve got fighters around me all the time, people that have come through the sport and are having the same struggles and are dealing with issues that prolong in mixed martial arts’ career. So yeah, I think I was a little bit too unpredictable in that seat, perhaps, and I think after that moment, they were possibly waiting for an opportunity to push me to one side.”

“I’ve never felt like I had a bad relationship, but I’ve also never approached this job as it was a job,” Hardy continued. “Sometimes, my frustrations would be people were kind of dragging their feet and doing the necessary work, and this was a person I’d complained about before, because I felt like opportunity would be amiss, not only for myself, but for other fighters in the region, young fighters that the media are trying to get ahold of that the UFC office in the UK is not connecting them, and all these opportunities that would be amiss that were provided for me when I was a fighter.

“It wasn’t like things had always been like that. Things had gotten considerably worse. When I signed in 2008, I had interviews every week. I was busy. I was talking to everybody that was there. Now, these guys are hardly getting any media attention at all, and the disconnect is of the PR team and the office, and that was my frustration, which I’d mentioned a few times. But it seemed to me like perhaps my complaints had not gotten further up the chain. In fact, they’d actually gone back to the person that I had maybe complained about, because their mood toward me had changed.

“I think the Dean situation didn’t help either, but obviously, the UFC couldn’t terminate my contracts after that because that would look really bad, firing a commentator after commenting on fighter safety. I think that was kind of nail in the coffin, to be honest, because of how much control they need to have over those events.”

Hardy also spoke about what possibilities the future may hold, suggesting that he’d like to work with RIZIN and/or ONE Championship—maybe for fights with the likes of Shinya Aoki or Takanori Gomi.

When or where Hardy makes his return is still up in the air right now, but it sounds like he’s fairly set on some kind of comeback to active competition. Stay tuned for the Nottingham native’s next step in the post-UFC landscape.