Former UFC welterweight title challenger Dan Hardy is finally set for his long-awaited return to combat sport this summer.
In a day of comebacks, British boxing legend Ricky Hatton announced his return from retirement for an eight-round exhibition bout against Marco Antonio Barrera. While that bout is set to headline the event, dubbed “One Final Assignment,” one undercard contest will be of note to mixed martial arts fans.
Like Hatton, Hardy hasn’t been in a action since 2012. Having not competed since a UFC victory over Amir Sadollah a decade ago, the 39-year-old is set to lace the boxing gloves for a clash with fellow MMA legend Diego Sanchez.
The action is slated to go down inside England’s Manchester Arena on July 2.
Hardy (25-10-1 MMA) appeared inside the UFC Octagon 10 times between 2008 and 2012. During that stint, “The Outlaw” shared the cage with the likes of Georges St-Pierre, Carlos Condit, Anthony Johnson, and Mike Swick. In 2013, the Englishman was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, causing him to ditch the gloves for the microphone.
After transitioning to broadcast and commentary roles, Hardy left the UFC in 2021. An apparent altercation with a staff member was reported as the cause of his release. Since that departure, talk of a fighting return has been prevalent.
While frequent back and forth with former welterweight champion Tyron Woodley seemingly hinted towards a matchup between the pair, whatever negotiations that were going on have evidently fallen through, with a different former UFC star getting the call.
Sanchez (30-14), a UFC Hall-of-Famer, has been active in MMA since his debut in 2002. After a falling out with the UFC last year, seemingly thanks to the input of his controversial coach, “The Nightmare” was let go and competed under a different promotional banner for the first time since 2005 last month.
In the main event of Eagle FC 46, the second US-held event for Khabib Nurmagomedov‘s promotion, Sanchez headlined opposite Kevin Lee. Despite his underdog status, Sanchez performed admirably en route to defeat on the scorecards. The 40-year-old will now turn his attention to welcoming Hardy back to action in what will be both men’s first foray into the squared circle.
As well as Hatton vs. Barrera and Hardy vs. Sanchez, a celebrity bout between Casey Walsh and Don Strapzy is also advertized for the event.
How do you expect the bout between Dan Hardy and Diego Sanchez to play out?