A Yankees fan from Brooklyn, Heather Hardy had many dreams and aspirations growing up like all of us do. But, more than a dream, we all have a calling, and when the call comes, it’s wise to answer. Heather has worked hard her whole life, she’s never taken the easy way out of anything. She turned pro in boxing in 2012 and is a force to reckon with. Five short years after dominating boxing, she’s set her crosshairs on MMA, and success is beckoning.
Heather began boxing in 2010 as a way to relieve stress and to have fun. She got noticed almost right away and began training at Gleason’s gym. After only 11 months, she captured the 2011 Metro title. This was just the beginning to the story of the greatest female boxer of all time. Heather has taken women’s boxing to new heights. Women’s boxing has gained more attention and respect because of her, but sadly it still isn’t given the respect that women’s MMA has received.
Heather turned pro in boxing in August of 2012. She fought three fights in 2012, not hesitating to go from one to the other. With the large pay gap that still exists in boxing between men and women, she would not wait for fights. Her first two fights occurred in Roseland Ballroom in New York. Now closed, the ballroom hosted a ton of boxing throughout history, Heather fought there five times between 2012 and 2014.
Her boxing record is 20-0 with one no contest. The no contest came from an accidental headbutt at the Barclays Center in 2015. She’s had four TKO victories in her boxing career, and the rest have come by way of decision. Heather wins, it’s in her blood, it’s in her heart. Heather is successful, and will never stop until she’s ready to stop. Her record is stellar and gives her an upper hand. She embraces the spotlight and is used to it. A fighter needs to settle in and get comfortable to be successful, with all the lead up to a fight that can’t be easy.
From the ring to the cage
Heather is always smiling, and that is refreshing. She is taking her MMA training seriously and enjoying it at the same time. She's answered one calling already, MMA is her second calling. After her debut at Bellator 180, she was hooked. And with that, comes the deep dive into the sport which leads to working on her ground game. Heather enjoys what she does, she has worked as hard as anyone in combat sports ever and she's having a great time doing it.
Heather spared time for us to talk, and one topic was how her preparations change between boxing and MMA.
It's like night and day. Comparing boxing to MMA is like saying football and baseball are similar because they both have a ball
A phrase like that coming from someone the caliber of a fighter she is, says a lot about the two sports. Heather is a fighter, and she's a champion. She will have MMA gold. She's also very humble. When mentioning her fight IQ and awareness she mentioned it's a fight, she still needs to strike and get positioning, but it's more than punches. MMA throws in kicks, takedowns, submissions, the only comparison between the two sports is that they are combat sports.
She understands the urgency in MMA given she has three rounds to work with as opposed to ten rounds. Feeling her opponent out can only take up so much time, and execution of a game plan needs to take over. Her preparation and awareness of her surroundings make her look like she's done this more than once.
One of the hardest skills to pick up is the ground game. During this part of the conversation is where it was obvious how focused and smart she is. Heather believes in her abilities, she got to where she is from working hard and not stopping. Her natural skillet can't be ignored. She said something that really stood out to me in terms of moving from boxing to MMA:
When you're good at one thing, you realize you're good at a lot of things.
It's important to understand where she's coming from with that quote. We were talking about awareness and finding that comfort level and that confidence in herself. She's a natural fighter. Some people are born to do what they are doing, she's one of those people. Being a fighter is so much more than just fighting, its heart, grit, determination, dedication, sacrifice, it's a sport that requires a strong understanding of your mind, body, and soul to be successful let alone be a champion.
Heather is the smartest fighter in the cage today. Her awareness is something to behold and something she will leverage at any phase in a fight. Her approach is tactical, fluid, and brilliant.
Working on her ground game is a big part of her training and that makes perfect sense. She sees MMA as a more dynamic form of combat. Whether standing or on the ground, Heather is always thinking about where her next punch will come from, where the next opportunity to strike will come from. Bellator 180 was her debut, look for Heather to dig into her bag of MMA tools she's gained between then and now and she will continue to be smart and calculated.
Heather is driven, and she loves what she does. What started out as a potential hobby turned into a great career and an inspiration for fighters and fans alike. Bellator 180 was a great card, look at the highlight video and see action from Heather. You'll get a small taste of what you can expect.
Heather took on Alice Yauger at Bellator 180. Alice is a cage fighting veteran and was a great matchup for Heather to begin her career in the cage. Heather won this fight by TKO in round three. It was as if she had been fighting in MMA for years. After her matchup, she couldn't contain her excitement:
I think I just fell in love guys, I'm hooked.
She's made it clear she isn't leaving boxing, she still has other women she wants to get in the ring with. Her heart is with MMA now, and she's making a name for herself. It's hard for women to get recognized in boxing, MMA is a different world. Women's MMA is the most exciting action you will see in the cage, and that's thanks to fighters and individuals like Heather "The Heat" Hardy. She revolutionized women's boxing, she will always be synonymous with women's boxing, her legend will never die. With her new endeavors, look for her to help take women's MMA to the next level.
Bellator 185 and beyond
We talked about her opponent, Kristina Williams. Again, being humble Heather has accepted the fact she has a tough opponent to deal with at the Mohegan Sun on October 20. This may be Kristina's professional debut, but she has fought three amateur MMA fights, all of which have been victories. Heather is allowing herself to be the underdog, and she embraces it.
Williams is looking for an upset over Heather. She's a confident fighter, this fight has everything a fight needs to be exciting. A fan favorite, vs a solid and hungry fighter making her pro debut. This will be a huge draw for Bellator.
As the WBC champ, Heather has never shied away from the bright lights and the pressure. Sadly, she wasn't given the same opportunities that men in the sport have received. She defended her title, as a 19-0 champion, and fought in front of nobody. That was devastating, and a sad realization for her.
Heather is selfless, she fights not only for herself but for her family, her child. Heather works harder every day, and when we talked about what was a big factor in her decision to move to MMA, she stated something simple, but powerful:
I want to do what's best for my family.
MMA has more opportunities, more chances for her to do just that, do what's best for her family. Bellator is a great promotion for a fighter like Heather even though she would be successful in any promotion. Fans of MMA should tune in and see how a champion handles business. Fighters and athletes rarely simultaneously have skill, talent, and heart; usually, it's two of the three. Heather possesses all of these, and with that comes something special.
Heather "The Heat" Hardy will revolutionize women's MMA like she did women's boxing. It's impossible not to root for her. The heat is coming, and the division is on notice. Bellator released a great video about Heather, check it out below.
Winning her debut was a great feeling for her and a great moment to watch. Her passion for what she does is unmatched. Heather "The Heat" Hardy will continue her quest to keep improving and excelling at everything she does. The women's MMA flyweight division and Bellator have landed what will become one of the faces of the division.
Who do you pick in this fight?
- Heather "The Heat" Hardy
- Kristina Williams
How do you think "The Heat" will do in her second MMA fight? How long until she is in title contention? Let us know in the comments.
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