It’s hard to predict how mixed martial arts is going to be perceived in a post-Mayweather vs. McGregor world, but the sport certainly received a shot in the arm this afternoon with news that Dan ‘The Outlaw’ Hardy will be the go-to MMA voice for the August 26 fight’s Sky Sports Box Office (UK) broadcast.
More than a safe pair of hands, Hardy has grown a reputation as one of the most astute and respected analysts in mixed martial arts and assesses fights with an assuredness many ex-fighters lack. This, however, will be his toughest gig yet.
On the night of August 26, Hardy will take his Sky Sports mic in Las Vegas alongside former world boxing champions Carl ‘The Cobra’ Froch and Johnny Nelson and each will be assigned the same impossible task: make a boxing match between Floyd Mayweather, a boxer, and Conor McGregor, a mixed martial artist, seem competitive.
Historically speaking, Nelson will smoothly toe the company line and Froch will remind us all of the night he knocked out George Groves in front of 80,000 spectators at Wembley Stadium. It’s the presence of Hardy, though, that most intrigues.
Sky Sports’ Head of Boxing Adam Smith said: “It’s great to add someone with Dan’s knowledge of MMA to our coverage. McGregor’s legendary status in UFC, and the intricacies of the sport itself, are two incredibly important stories to tell – I’m sure Dan will do that brilliantly.”
Nottingham’s Hardy, 35, was a professional mixed martial artist for over eight years. His career peaked with an unsuccessful UFC welterweight title shot against Georges St-Pierre in 2010, but was also enhanced by wins against the likes of Duane Ludwig, Mike Swick, Akihiro Gono, Amir Sadollah and Marcus Davis. Known for his red mohawk and precise striking, Hardy was a fan favourite, particularly in his homeland, and a man whose departure from the sport in 2012 created a void in all who were partial to a bit of Cock Sparrer and some well-placed hooks and kicks.
“The 26th of August will be an historic night for boxing and mixed martial arts, and probably the biggest combat sports event of our lifetime,” said Hardy. “Sky Sports Box Office is renowned for putting on huge fight nights, and I am honoured to be joining the team out in Las Vegas. Just to be in the ‘fight capital’ on that night will be a special experience, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to add a little of my MMA knowledge to the broadcast.”
Come fight night, the Sky Sports studio, like the rest, will probably resemble the War Room from Dr. Strangelove. But Dan Hardy isn’t a bad guy to have wade through the bullshit and make sense of the nonsense.