The announcement of Dan Hardy boxing Diego Sanchez may have come as a surprise to many – but not Hardy.
Hardy meets Sanchez in an eight, two-minute round exhibition boxing bout on July 2 at AO Arena in Manchester, England. The 39-year-old has been dabbling with the idea of a comeback for years, but explains that Sanchez is someone he always expected to fight.
“Diego and I have been on a bit of a collision course for a long while,” Hardy said on his YouTube channel. “I think it was back in like 2006 when we got a faceoff when we were fighting in Holland. It’s always been on the cards. I mean, we’ve always been in the same weight class. He was slightly ahead of me in his UFC career.
“So, like, as I signed with the UFC, I was watching him fight the likes of Clay Guida at the Pearl at the Palms. I’ve got some good memories of Diego’s fights. You know what you’re going to get with him. He’s an animal. He comes to scrap every time.”
Hardy hasn’t competed since September 2012 when he defeated Amir Sadollah in his hometown of Nottingham, England. He was forced to step away from competition when he was diagnosed with a rare heart condition, but the former UFC welterweight title challenger was eventually cleared to resume his career.
After years of consideration, “The Outlaw” will finally fight, and he’s confident Sanchez is an opponent who will allow him to thrive.
“I’m still confident I’m gonna be able to stop him inside the distance,” Hardy said. “But it’s gonna be a bit more difficult with the 16-ounce gloves and with just one skillset, but this is a good place for me to start, get myself back in proper condition, proper fight shape and then we’ll see where we’ll go from there.
“I think there are other options with Diego – assuming I don’t beat him up too badly in this boxing match. We might be able to do MMA, or bare-knuckle or something afterwards.”