By: Nick Portella
What’s good fight fans? Today I had the pleasure of speaking with undefeated duel weight WBC world boxing champion Heather “The Heat” Hardy. Heather will be making her MMA debut on June 24 at Madison Square Garden at Bellator NYC. She is 20-0 in the boxing world and looking to take the MMA world by storm. Let’s have a seat with Heather and get to know her a little bit better.
Nick: What does it mean (for you) to be a fighter?
Heather: I have been a fighter my whole life. Right now it means to fight for my job, my career, my happiness, and my life.
Nick: At what age did you begin to train in combat sports?
Heather: I began training when I was 28 years old.
I was 28 years old.
Nick: Do you feel that there is a double standard when it comes to men and woman in the world of boxing?
Heather: I don’t feel that there is, there is. There is an extremely large pay gap. Women are not given the same opportunity as men.
Nick: With a professional boxing record of 20-0, being the first professional female boxer to be on a card at the Barclay’s Center, and putting women’s boxing back in the spotlight what made you finally add MMA to your resume?
Heather: I started training in MMA last year when women’s boxing wasn’t doing much. I needed a backup plan. I plan to continue boxing still but wanted more tools in my arsenal.
Nick: Since you have now trained in boxing and mixed martial arts what are the major differences you see during training camp?
Heather: They are totally different. Training for boxing is all about perfecting my craft. To step into MMA I had to essentially learn five different new sports. I wasn’t just training under one gym anymore. I go all over to learn all these different disciplines. I was starting from the bottom.
Nick: While I know you are New York native fighting out of the famous Gleason’s Gym and also training at Renzo Gracie Academy how long have you been with each gym?
Heather: I have been with Gleason’s since my first amateur fight in 2010 and Renzo Gracie’s for one year.
Nick: You are obviously a very proficient and dangerous striker, how comfortable will you be should your MMA debut become a grappling match?
Heather: I’m cool with that. I’m a fighter. I boxed my way out of some situations that most people could not have come back from. I have heart and I don’t quit. I believe that I have enough tools in the toolbox to pull this one off.
Nick: What do you think your best attribute is as a fighter?
Heather: I’m tough, resilient and I don’t quit. You would need a baseball bat to smack me in the face with to sit me down for a minute. I will stick to my game plan and execute it as planned. No one will break me in there.
Nick: Your nickname is The Heat. Who gave it to you and why?
Heather: It’s my name Heather “Heat”. From my first professional fight, every boxer had a ring name and I needed one. My coach said you have one Heat. It’s also because I am a pressure fighter. I’m always coming forward and attacking. I bring the Heat.
Nick: You are quickly becoming an inspiration to women in sports, how does that make you feel?
Heather: I can’t really say anything other than it is unbelievable. It is an honor to inspire athletes young and old to continue to follow their dreams. Anything is possible if you want to work for it.
Nick: In recent interviews, I have read about your story and it is an inspirational one. Poverty, hurricanes, floods, abuse, and raising a child on your own is a tough task by itself, but you were able to rise above all that and create a career for yourself that is world class. What made you push through it all to get to where you are today?
Heather: I have a 13-year-old daughter and that drives me to provide a better life for her. I want to show her by example how to do things. I am her role model and I have to do the things I want to see her do.
Nick: Invicta FC is a big name in the WMMA world and you had originally signed with them. Your match got canceled due to your opponent sustaining an injury. What made you decide to sign with MMA giant Bellator?
Heather: I had a fight for Invicta scheduled in January which got canceled due to my opponent sustaining an injury. I had to go through with this though. I worked very hard and trained for my MMA debut. When Bellator approached me with a chance to fight I had to take it.
Nick: You are the current WBC super bantamweight and featherweight champion in boxing. Should you decide to continue with MMA will you still continue to defend your boxing titles?
Heather: I will definitely be boxing. Some people say it very difficult, but I am in the gym anyway. If I box once a month then I box. If an MMA fight comes I will take it. I’m comfortable with that because I love fighting.
Nick: Did you sign a multi-fight deal with Bellator?
Heather: I can tell you that I’m not looking at other organizations. This is only a one fight deal because I have a boxing promoter. I am going to be the first athlete signed by Bellator and DiBella Entertainment. We pushed for this one fight deal but there is a lot of paperwork and legal stuff to make this happen.
Nick: June 24 you will be facing a seasoned opponent in Alice Yauger. How much do you know about your opponent before your MMA debut?
Heather: My coaches watch the tape and I do what they say. I don’t preoccupy myself with that. She is a veteran that knows how to get through rounds and win. I am not taking her lightly. I have never fought MMA before. Apparently, I am the favorite for this fight but I still have to go in there and prove myself.
Nick: With all the hype surrounding boxers and MMA fighters crossing over do you feel any added pressure to perform due to your boxing status?
Heather: I don’t feel any added pressure having to perform. Being the only female on a boxing card every fight is a must-win for me. No one puts more pressure on me than me. I always get asked if it is different since it is Spike TV or my debut or on Bellator. That doesn’t bother me. The only other pressure is the coaches in my corner who invested so much time into me. I don’t want to disappoint them and come back with a loss.
Nick: When your career in combat sports comes to an end what legacy would you like to leave for the next generation of female fighters?
Heather: Just don’t give up. So many people told em that I couldn’t do it. I wouldn’t make it. I want the 12-year-old girls in a gym banging a bag to know that they are equal. The should feel like they belong there. I want to give back to the sport as much as possible. Boxing may have not always loved me but I have always loved boxing.
Nick: Heather have you submitted to the takeover?
Heather truly had a thank you list that was a mile long. She would like to thank all her friends, family, and loved ones that have supported her through her journey. To her fans, she appreciates each and every one of you for the love and support. She wanted to thank the people who did not believe in her also. They made her work even harder to prove to herself that her dream was possible. Big shout out to her sponsor Dymatize Nutrition not only for sponsorship but for a great product which I use regularly.
I had a surreal experience talking with Heather. From a media point of view, she is an amazing interview. From a fan interview, she is the people’s champion. I wish her well in her pro-MMA debut and her boxing career. I have no doubt that we will be seeing her a whole lot more in the ring and the cage. Also, give her a follow on Twitter @HeatherHardyBox or visit her website at www.heather-hardy.com to stay up to date with everything that she is doing. Signing off for TheMMATakeOver.com this is Nick Portella. @NickPortellaMMA