Meanwhile, Hardy (25-10 MMA, 6-4 UFC), whose last fight was a decision over Amir Sadollah in September 2012, has thought about whom he’d like to fight if a comeback does materialize, and he recently came up with one idea.
“Diego Sanchez, because after Ross Pearson got robbed, that was one of the worst decisions I’ve ever seen,” he said.
The selection doesn’t come without personal history for “The Outlaw,” who was a longtime training partner of Pearson’s at Team Rough House in Nottingham. A fight against Sanchez wouldn’t just be good for his career, but a little bit of payback, as well.
“Ross Pearson won that fight clearly, and Diego accepted the win like he does…he’s as crazy as he is,” Hardy said. “I’m a huge Diego fan, but for me, he is what’s wrong with mixed martial arts right now. He is the 20th century bullheaded martial artist that walks forward and fights with their face, and now we’ve got guys like … Conor McGregor, we’ve got Gunnar Nelson; they’ve all got this very Machida-esque style where they’re very mobile; they can switch stances, and they can hit with power from anywhere.
“I think Diego represents the old school, where you just walk forward in a boxing stance and see who falls over first.”
Following his win over Pearson, which came at this past month’s UFC Fight Night 42, Sanchez called for a rematch with Nick Diaz, whom he beat via decision in a 2005 headliner. Diaz recently resigned with the UFC, and plans to return to the octagon in 2015. He welcomed a fight with former middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
Hardy said he has “reason to believe there might be interest” from the UFC in pairing him with Sanchez, but didn’t go into further detail.
His biggest opponent remains the sport’s regulators as he attempts to prove he’s fit to fight. But Sanchez might be next.
“I’d like to get in there and maybe push him toward retirement,” he said. “Get my comeback fight, give him his last fight, and see where we’re at.”