Former Ultimate Fighting Championship title challenger Dan Hardy has settled into his role as an analyst quite well since retiring from competition back in 2013, but he never took his eye completely off a return to competition.
Medical issues forced him out of fighting, but Hardy has since been recognized as one of the best commentators and analysts in the fight game today.
“There’s nothing like fighting,” Hardy told Sherdog.com’s Anthony Walker on Thursday. “You can’t replace fighting. But this is a good close second for me, to remain in the fight game, push these fights and give my thoughts on them. I feel fortunate just to be in this position.”
Many fighters who weren’t top earners during their time in the promotion have struggled to make ends meet after retiring from active competition, and the position of analyst has become a coveted and highly sought-after position for retired fighters. Hardy has made a seamless transition from fighter to talking head, but claims he’d be lying if he told you he wasn’t constantly plotting his MMA return.
“I’m always thinking about fighting again,” Hardy said. “It’s gotta be the right venue, the right opponent. No one in particular, and that’s the thing, this sport changes so quickly that you don’t know who’s going to be available mid-to-late next year.
“It really depends on where the sport sits at the time,” he added.
The heart issue that forced “The Outlaw” out of fighting was serious enough for the lifelong martial artist to give up the sport he loved. Now, according to Hardy, the doctors treating him have given him the green light to return to fighting whenever he wants to do so.
“I’m all good,” Hardy said. “I went back to the UK, took a bunch of tests with a cardio specialist and they compared past test results and told me ‘You’re all good. Whenever you choose to return, you’ve got the paperwork to compete.’”
During his initial run in the UFC, Hardy nearly reached the pinnacle, challenging Georges St. Pierre for the welterweight title in 2010. He retired on a two-fight winning streak: a knockout victory over Duane Ludwig and a decision win over Amir Sadollah back in 2012.