With the perfect combination of beauty and brutality, Heather "The Heat" Hardy made her professional debut at Bellator's first event in New York and won. She walked in to "Girl on fire" by Alicia Keys and the connection with that artist and Hardy's connection to New York made it a memorable entrance that was followed by her first run at an experienced fighter in Alice Yauger (4-6). It should be noted that both women had the utmost respect for one another's experience in combat sports, so no trash talk outside of being confident was ever present.
Both women showed each other no mercy during the fight and Hardy was winning on significant strikes alone, which would have won her over on the judges' scorecards, but people remember finishers. An accidental headbutt would open a cut on Hardy, forcing the bout to be paused to allow doctors to check it. When that happens, even if a fighter wants to keep fighting, the bout could be stopped at any moment if the cut is bad. The fear of suffering her first lost in her professional combat sports career seemed to fuel the finish Hardy earned when she was cleared to continue fighting.
The overhand right that was finding a home all three rounds suddenly packed more power that would seat Yauger and have her on the retreat. Even with pressure of coming so close to a finish, Hardy did not pounce on Yauger, as she knows she is still new to MMA. She allowed Yauger to her feet and was able to pump out enough strikes to get a TKO win in the final round.
In the post-fight interview, Hardy was moved by winning her first MMA bout and fighting in Madison Square Garden.
Hardy said, "I think I'm in love" when asked about the journey in preparing for her first fight at #BellatorNYC and said she wanted to take a gi class with her grappling coach, Daniel Gracie. She plans on continuing her boxing career and competing in Bellator MMA, but will not offend the other women by entertaining questions on a title shot after only having one fight. To be active at her level in both boxing and MMA is sure to be a tough task, but it looks like when Bellator brought "The Heat" to MMA, she melted the hearts of fight fans.
Congratulations Ms. Hardy.