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Heather Hardy to make MMA debut Jan. 14

Photo courtesy of Natasha Verma Productions
15
Nov

Frustrated by the scarcity of boxing cards in New York because of the steep cost of health insurance, Heather Hardy has decided to fall back on her background as a kick-boxer. Hardy, a popular fighter from Brooklyn, is set to take a short break from boxing to make her MMA debut on Jan. 14 on an Invicta card in Kansas City, she told RingTV.com on Tuesday.

“We have a date set for Jan. 14,” Hardy said in a phone interview of fighting for Invicta, which is an all-women’s MMA company. “We’re just waiting on signing the contract. I’m very excited.” Her reasoning for going down this path is complicated, she admits. Hardy, 34, has to make a living and with no boxing shows scheduled for the rest of 2016 because of the insurance issue, Hardy (18-0, 4 knockouts) made the bold decision to try MMA out of state, where the purses will be bigger than if she had boxed, she said.

There hasn’t been a boxing card since Aug. 21 in Coney Island when Hardy won a majority decision against Shelly Vincent. “I need to make money,” said Hardy, who admitted she has fallen behind on her rent. “I have no idea how I’m going through the rest of this year without getting paid in the last quarter. So I need to do this.”

Ironically, the Barclays Center in Brooklyn is scheduled to stage a big boxing card on Jan. 14 under the assumption the insurance issues will be resolved by then. Not wanting to miss another chance at a payday, Hardy is going through with the MMA fight, she says, with the understanding she will go back to boxing on March 4 at Barclays Center where the Keith Thurman-Danny Garcia welterweight unification fight is targeted for.

Hardy has been assured she will get a title shot on that date by her promoter, Lou DiBella, she says. Hardy would then like to continue with MMA, especially since it’s now legal in New York. (The recently passed MMA bill contained a clause spiking health insurance costs for combat sports and in fact, there isn’t even an insurance policy yet approved for boxing promoters to purchase, making it impossible to put on boxing cards in New York.)

“I can’t risk Lou saying, ‘You’re going to fight Jan. 14 and then the show at the Barclays Center is canceled because the insurance hasn’t been worked out,” said Hardy, a single mom of a 12-year-old girl who has fought every one of her fights in New York City. “I need to take this fight.”

Hardy has a background in kick-boxing. She says she held amateur titles in Muay Thai before taking up boxing, so mixed martial arts isn’t totally foreign to her. She’s taking grappling lessons to get her ready for her MMA debut and has always been intrigued with the idea of fighting MMA. “I kick-boxed as my cross-training all throughout my boxing career,” she said. “I never abandoned my legs.”