It’s been a staggering eight years since we’ve last seen Dan ‘The Outlaw’ Hardy make an Octagon walk. In that time, the Nottingham native has become one of the most talented colour commentators on the promotion’s books, and one of the sport’s finest analysts. These recent ventures have put a potential return from hiatus on the backburner. However, that may all change soon.
Hardy was been diagnosed with the heart condition, Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome back in 2013, and two year’s ago, he revealed he had been medically cleared to return to active competition. On an appearance on fellow commentator, Joe Rogan’s post, The Joe Rogan Experience, Hardy also shed light on his intention to enter the USADA testing-pool. All the chips have fallen in place for a storybook comeback; all that’s left is finding a dance partner. Hardy has a few ideas.
Late last year, the 37-year-old sent feelers out in regards to a possible return against fan favourite, Nate Diaz, since then, he’s now also drawn up a hit list, which includes former lightweight champion, Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis, and former title challenger, Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone.
Speaking with ESPN reporter, Brett Okamoto, Hardy distanced himself from upsetting any rankings upon his potential return but dropped ideas for meetings with Pettis and Cerrone, who’ve both dropped their last two and three outings, in proportion.
“First and foremost, I’m an analyst now,” Hardy explained. “I’m a commentator, so I don’t want to fight someone who’s on a trajectory to a title shot, because I’m not interested in stepping in there and upsetting any kind of rankings and involving myself in those conversations. The people I’ve had conversations with and about, about fighting – obviously ‘Cowboy’ (Donald Cerrone) he’s top – he’s near the top of the list because he’s a great pick. Anthony Pettis. I mean, that’s something I’ve discussed with (Paul) Felder, and he’s discussed with Anthony, and that’s the fight that we would both like to happen at some point.“
“It’s the guys that are towards the twilight of their careers,” Hardy said. “The guys who’ve had a few fights and know their selves and have got good experience, not the guys who are on a trajectory to a title, because that just puts me in an awkward situation. I wanna be able to step away from the sport and stay as an analyst because I appreciate this job that I’ve got right now.“
Hardy, a former Cage Warriors welterweight titleholder, missed both Cerrone and Pettis during their respective stints at welterweight – with Pettis returning to 155-pounds last time out in a guillotine defeat to Diego Ferreira, but that doesn’t necessarily put the complete kibosh on either matchup.
The taekwondo black belt arrived in the UFC all the way back in 2008, earning a title opportunity against then gold-holder, Georges St-Pierre, via victories over Akihiro Gono, Rory Markham, Marcus Davis, and Mike Swick. A loss against St-Pierre marked the beginning of a four-fight slide spell. Hardy would mark his final two Octagon appearances to date with a knockout win over esteemed striking coach, Duane Ludwig, and a homecoming unanimous decision triumph over Amir Sadollah.