Friday’s Bellator 194 main card will feature a striking fans’ delight between Heather Hardy (1-1) and Ana Julaton (2-3). Both women have racked up impressive records as professional boxers, but their first meeting will be an MMA bout.
“I feel like it’s going to be a good fight,” Hardy told MMASucka. “We’re gonna see how tough she is, huh?”
Hardy and Julaton have a bit of a history. Julaton has made no secret of her desire to fight Hardy; be it in boxing or MMA. She conducted an interview with The Telegraph in October 2017 where she accused Hardy of ducking her.
“I believe Heather is avoiding me,” Julaton said in the interview with The Telegraph. “She did in boxing. We both want the belt, but I want to fight her too. We will meet. She can run, but she can’t hide.”
That didn’t sit well with Hardy, especially when Julaton’s comments came at a time when Hardy was cutting weight for Bellator 185. In hindsight, Hardy said she doesn’t really care about the incident with Julaton.
“[Julaton] had released this article about how like ‘Heather Hardy, you can run but you can’t hide,’ and it was the day before my weigh-in, so I was very cranky. And when someone told me, I was yelling and screaming like literally I sounded like I came off the streets in Brooklyn,” Hardy said with a laugh. “But day to day, I really don’t care.”
Julaton got her wish, and the two will settle the score on Friday. For her, it’s an opportunity to make good on the call-out. But for Hardy, it’s an opportunity to get back into the win column. In her last fight out, she suffered a tough defeat to Kristina Williams, who won the fight via doctor stoppage. Hardy, who has just two MMA fights, said she learned a lot from the loss.
“I learned that we can’t rely too heavily on my boxing and I can’t use boxing as my way out of every situation,” Hardy said. “Prior to that fight, I kind of looked at MMA and thought to myself, ‘How can I survive until my boxing is superior to whatever the other person’s throwing at me,’ and it cost me a broken nose, right? This camp has been more dedicated to not just surviving by using my boxing but being smarter than the person in front of me and being able to pull out different things to capitalize and be in control of the fight.”
It will be interesting to see what other martial arts Hardy brings to the table in a fight with a fellow longtime boxer. She will definitely be showcasing some new tools, however. When asked what she felt went wrong in the Williams fight, Hardy said she was using too much of her boxing techniques that weren’t translating well over to MMA.
After the loss, some questioned “The Heat’s” longterm future in MMA and whether she’d return to boxing, where she’s undefeated.
“The loss didn’t deter me, it didn’t make me say, ‘Oh, I don’t want to do it again,’” Hardy said. “I’m still in it. I’ve got to figure out how I can be better than these girls.”
Lastly, Hardy thanked her fans for their support.
“It’s really meant the world to me,” she said. “Especially coming off a loss. The MMA community kept in it with me, they’re still staying Team Heat, so I’m gonna put on for my fans.”
Hardy and Julaton will each have their opportunity to make a statement on Friday’s main card.