Bellator commentator Jimmy Smith: MMA loves Heather Hardy because she has 'it' factor

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Filed under: Bellator, Blue Corner, Featured, Featured Videos, News

WBC international champion Heather Hardy loves MMA, and MMA loves her back, said Bellator commentator Jimmy Smith.

“She has that ‘it’ factor, where the whole crowd ends up rooting for her,” said Smith in a “Foundations” video promoting Hardy’s return opposite Kristina Williams at Bellator 185, which takes place Friday at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.

Hardy, 35, transitioned to MMA in search of better payouts after career opportunities dwindled in boxing. With help from MMA legend Renzo Gracie and fighters at Longo and Weidman MMA, she got a crash course in the sport and signed a one-fight contract with Bellator.

Instead of a small show in Thackerville, Okla., Hardy wound up making her debut on home soil at Madison Square Garden, a venue she’d never worked in boxing. And after a slow start, she battered Alice Yauger en route to a third-round finish.

Hardy gleefully announced she’d fallen in love with MMA afterward.

Now, she has a unique contract that allows her to compete both in the cage and squared circle, depending on which sport offers her the best opportunity. She’ll be under the Bellator banner at least two years, with a minimum of four fights.

On Friday, Hardy (1-0 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) will make her second pro MMA appearance at Bellator 185, facing off with Williams (0-0 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) on the Spike-televised main card.

Things are moving fast for Hardy, but Smith can see why.

“She doesn’t just fight well; she’s a star of her own making,” he said.

For more on Bellator 185, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

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Filed under: Bellator, Blue Corner, Featured, Featured Videos, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Bellator contract allows Heather Hardy crossover in boxing, MMA

When boxer Heather Hardy made her professional MMA debut at Bellator 180, she needed to make an impression. There was no other way to construe a one-fight contract.

On Friday, she makes her second appearance for the Viacom-owned promotion, facing Kristina Williams (0-0 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) at Bellator 185. This time, though, it’s not such a do-or-die situation.

After a bloody beatdown of Alice Yauger in June, Hardy (1-0 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) signed a two-year contract with Bellator. The deal guarantees a minimum of four bouts. But more than that, it also allows her to make a living in boxing.

Rather than be held to one promoter and one sport, Hardy gets to choose.

“I’m pretty much flexible to do whatever makes sense,” she told MMAjunkie in advance of her Spike-televised fight at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. “If it’s a better deal with Bellator, then we do MMA. If boxing has a big opportunity for me, (I do boxing).

“The organizations want to see me do well, and they’re not interested in standing in the way of one another.”

Hardy still holds a contract with boxing promoter Lou DiBella. She estimates she spends 12 hours a day in the squared circle, coaching fighters at gym and training clients at the famed Gleason’s Gym in her hometown of Brooklyn, N.Y. But at the moment, she sees more opportunity in MMA.

“The way I see it is, the industry is not really willing to pay women moving forward,” she said. “If they can’t offer me a decent enough fight with a good opponent – I’m 20-0 and a two-time champion – I’m not interested in fights that don’t make sense.

“If they can’t pay these girls to come in and give the fans the fights they want to see, then it’s really not worth my time any more,” she said. “I’m really hopeful that, starting next year, promoters will be willing to bring in good competition and put on good women’s fights.”

Money motivated Hardy’s move away from boxing. But it was also expedited by MMA’s passage in her home state. After a nearly 20-year ban on MMA was removed and the sport was legalized, increased insurance requirements forced several New York-based boxing promoters, including DiBella, to cancel events.

Without a place to ply her trade, Hardy, the WBC’s international female featherweight champ, needed a way to provide for herself and her family.

Although she hasn’t quit her day job as a boxing coach and trainer, Hardy is breathing a bit easier now that she knows she’ll be fighting regularly.

“It does help me financially in the long run, knowing that I have certain paychecks coming my way,” she said. “The last month hasn’t been great, because I don’t get paid up front for them all. But it’s nice to know that over the next two years, I’ll be in a better spot financially. The more you work, the more you get paid.”

For her second bout, Hardy wants to put on the type of performance that keeps her phone ringing. She’s working hard to acclimate herself to range and speed of MMA. She grades her debut a C-plus based on a slow start and thinks she’ll be a greater threat with more experience in the gym.

“The first one was really an introduction, trying to cover all the bases just so that I knew what was going on in any particular situation,” she said. “It was like glossing over all the areas, because I kind of fast-forwarded and jumped feet-first into a fight at the Garden.

“I focused less on my boxing (for the second camp), and more on kickboxing and striking and jiu-jitsu, so I’m already acclimated and accustomed to fighting that fight.”

Hardy earned wide recognition from MMA fans for her aggressive comeback in the second and third round of her debut. But her personality also won notice from the MMA media, which caught her off guard after so many years of obscurity in boxing.

“It’s so nice to finally get recognition,” she said. “I worked so hard in boxing, and nobody really knew my name. After that one fight, I kind of skyrocketed overnight.”

She’s still got a long ways to go before she’s a household name. But now, there’s a foundation to build her name as a crossover star in combat sports.

“I’m still working two jobs and taking care of my daughter,” she said. “I don’t have that luxury where I can go away for a six-week fight camp and have a nanny take my daughter back to school. I’m not there yet. So it’s nice (to have the new deal), because it seems like I can be there one day.”

For more on Bellator 185, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

 

Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Pro boxer Heather Hardy, returning at Bellator 185, gets opponent for 2nd MMA fight

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Filed under: Bellator, News

Pro boxer and recent MMA debutant Heather Hardy has an opponent for her second MMA fight.

Hardy (1-0 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) was previously announced for the October card, and she now has an opponent: Kristina Williams (0-0 MMA, 0-0 BMMA).

Officials announced the fight via nypost.com.

Bellator 185 takes place Oct. 20 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., and it airs on Spike following prelims on MMAjunkie.

In June at Bellator 180, Hardy, who’s gone 20-0 and claimed WBC titles since making her pro boxing debut in 2012, made a successful MMA debut with a third-round TKO of flyweight Alice Yauger (4-6 MMA, 0-2 BMMA). The 35-year-old Brooklyn native finished strong and survived a nasty cut to emerge victorious in June.

“I think I just fell in love,” Hardy said after Bellator 180 (watch the video above). “I just worked so hard, and now I can say I did it too. A lot of people said I couldn’t do it or I wouldn’t do it. And I did.”

Her newest MMA opponent, Williams, makes her pro debut at the event. The Oklahoma-based 28-year-old, who’s fought at flyweight and bantamweight, is 3-0 as an amateur after taking her first fight earlier this year.

The latest Bellator 185 card now includes:

  • Gegard Mousasi vs. Alexander Shlemenko
  • Muhammed Lawal vs. Liam McGeary
  • Heather Hardy vs. Kristina Williams

For more on Bellator 185, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie