Undefeated featherweight Heather Hardy announced on May 18 that she will be an undercard to an MMA event in New York’s Madison Square Garden next month. The announcement was made after she won an eight-round rematch with Hungarian Edina Kiss before a hometown crowd in Brooklyn’s Paramount Theater.
Hardy is scheduled to make her MMA debut under the first MMA event by California promotions company Bellator, although an opponent has yet to be named. The June 24 pay-per-view event will be headlined by light heavyweights Chael Sonnen (29-15-1) and Wanderlei Silva (35-12-1, 1 NC).
Lou Di Bella, founder of Di Bella Promotions said in the post-fight announcement that Hardy is not leaving boxing and may be back in the ring “in six to eight months”.
Hardy and Kiss headlined Di Bella’s Broadway Boxing event in Brooklyn, a rematch of their battle in March 2017 at the Barclays Center. In contrast to that bout that took place in a near empty arena, Hardy fought before a hometown crowd that relentlessly cheered her on through eight rounds. Indeed, the crowd felt it has a stake in this local fighter whose tough life battles have fueled a fierce determination to succeed in the ring.
Hardy’s dominance of Kiss became apparent in the fourth round, stunning the Hungarian challenger with quick combinations. Kiss came in more aggressive in the fifth round, but missed many power shots that drained her energy and left her vulnerable to Hardy’s assault. Hardy won by a unanimous decision to a largely contented crowd.
Hardy’s crossover to the MMA has been in the making since last year and fueled in part by financial reasons. New York state’s decision to raise insurance coverage for combat sports shut off boxing events in the city in 2016, draining fighters like Hardy of opportunities to make a living. She was supposed to fight in her MMA pro-debut in January 14 but the fight was cancelled after her opponent was injured.
Hardy has also been vocal about the limited opportunities for women boxers, and has been outspoken with her disappointment over her March 2017 fight. Hardy and Kiss opened the Thurman-Garcia main event on March 4, 2017 just minutes after doors opened. They fought before a largely empty arena in what would become one of the most watched boxing events in New York.
In crossing over, Hardy will become a two-sport athlete and stands a good chance of making a name for herself in MMA, which has been successful of promoting female fighters. If boxing is unable to support this talent, it may just lose her forever. May the best sport win Heather “The Heat” Hardy.