This past January, boxing standout Heather Hardy was to make her MMA debut at Invicta FC 21. Unfortunately, Hardy’s opponent dropped out and the fight was canceled. Now, five months later, Hardy is finally going to step into a cage for the first time.
“I think that being a veteran of fighting sports, I kind of know what it is,” Hardy told MMAWeekly.com. “You’re disappointed of course, especially with all the time and money I spent training, and coming out with nothing to show for it is extremely disappointing. These things happen, so I took it in stride.”
Given the extra time to prepare, Hardy does see changes in her game, but she admits that it will be some time before aspects of MMA become second nature.
“I don’t know if one fight, two fights, or 10 fights makes things second nature,” said Hardy. “The level of my boxing is so far above my level of everything else that I use it for the benchmark for where I’d like to be. I’d like everything to be as good as my boxing.
Hardy (0-0) makes her MMA debut against Alice Yauger (4-5) in a main card 125-pound bout at Bellator 180 on Saturdayfriday in New York City.
“I’m very grateful that she took this fight,” Hardy said of Yauger. “I have all the respect for her outside the cage. (Inside the cage) I’ve got to do whatever it takes to get the win.
“In boxing, I like to go in the first 30 seconds and feel out my opponent, see what they’re doing, and how I can capitalize. With MMA, there are so many different opportunities and things that can happen, so I’m just going to stay sharp and be ready for whatever comes at me.”
Now making her debut at Madison Square Garden, the impact of her situation is not lost on Hardy.
“Every fighter dreams of fighting at Madison Square Garden, which has been the mecca for fighting sports,” said Hardy. “It is always that one spot you always hope to be under those lights. This is my MMA debut, my twenty-first fight, but probably the biggest fight of my career.”
Should she find the kind of success in MMA she has had in boxing, Hardy may bounce back and forth between the two, or she may decide to stay with one over the other in the future. But for now she has her mind set on her bout with Yauger.
“For right now I’m focused on June 24,” Hardy said. “On June 25 I’ll re-evaluate and see what we’ll do next. Will I do another MMA fight? Do I want to do a boxing match first? We’ll see where it makes the most sense. That’s where I’m at in my career right now – what makes the most sense.”