Heather Hardy isn't sure she'll ever go for Bellator title, but 'I don’t count myself out'
NEW YORK – Heather Hardy was the betting favorite going into a fight with Kristina Williams in October 2017.
Hardy was only 1-0 in MMA at the time but carried an extensive – and unbeaten – record as a world champion boxer. She’d TKO’d her debut opponent and gained a lot of fans in the process. Williams, in turn, had found success in amateur bouts but hadn’t fought a pro MMA fight.
“I think that that fight, if anything, showed the fans that I do have holes,” Hardy told MMA Junkie after a press conference for an upcoming Bellator 222 appointment. “That there are weaknesses.”
But Hardy was well aware of her shortcomings, which is why – contrary to most expectations – she wasn’t devastated by the loss.
“The truth of the matter is, I didn’t feel like it was a loss in that sense,” Hardy said. “I walked out of the cage; my head was held high. I knew that the girl was better than me, but that was a risk that I was willing to take. Like, all these girls are better than me. All these girls train different than me. All these girls know things I don’t know.
“I’m going in there, and I’m going, ‘You know what, I’m tougher than you, and I’m still going to kick your ass.’ If it doesn’t turn out like that, I didn’t feel like it was such a personal loss. It showed me that, yeah, there are girls who can do things a lot better than me, but I knew that going in.”
Most importantly, though, Hardy (2-1 MMA, 2-1 BMMA) didn’t give up. Less than four months later, against fellow boxer Ana Julaton, she got the win. Hardy came back to show that “I still want to try, I still have faith in my abilities.” And she’s ready to do it again on June 14.
The turnaround will be much longer this time, with 14 months separating the Julaton scrap from a Bellator 222 meeting with an opponent TBD at Madison Square Garden.
Hardy has kept herself busy, picking up boxing world titles in the meantime. But just because she hasn’t been sitting around, it doesn’t mean getting back into the groove of MMA training has been easy. In fact, Hardy couldn’t stress enough, it was the exact opposite.
“It’s so hard,” Hardy said. “It’s so hard. It is so hard to go back and forth between both sports. And I can’t say that enough. I’m a mom, I have a 15-year-old, I have a full-time job. It’s not like my whole life is dedicated to boxing and MMA, where I can say, ‘OK, for four hours I’ll train boxing and then for two hours I’ll train’ – it doesn’t work like that for me, right?
“Because I have so many other responsibilities. For myself, I can say it’s been extremely challenging. That’s why I know it’s going to be a good fight, because no matter who they put out there in front of me, it’s going to be a good fight.”
Fighters in similar positions talk about how hard this balancing act between multiple sports can be. More often than not, we see them just sticking with one. But Hardy doesn’t seem ready to make that commitment just yet.
“I want to say yes, but I love the platform that Bellator gives me,” Hardy said. “I love to fight. Boxing is like my bread and butter, right? Nobody’s going to show me something inside a boxing ring that I haven’t seen already. Whether they’re better than me or not, I’ve seen it all. MMA is still so big to me.
“So, to think I want to just go back to boxing where I’m comfortable, it’s almost like, why would I want to do that? When I have so many other opportunities to fight. I don’t know that I’ll ever go for a title in Bellator, but I don’t count myself out for it.”
To hear more from Hardy, check out the video above.