Dan Hardy: Add up all my UFC paychecks, I’m making more in boxing match vs. Diego Sanchez


From Dan Hardy’s perspective, he could have fought Diego Sanchez in a cage or in a ring, with or without gloves. He chose boxing as an exhibition sport because of the risk and reward.

For all the bad blood Hardy believes Sanchez is carrying into their July 2 fight, he is well-aware how much damage the The Ultimate Fighter 1 winner has taken, and he believes a boxing match with shorter rounds, better padding, and a hefty payday is the fairest deal possible right now.

” The truth is that this is a middle ground financially, as what was offered to us for MMA was pitiful and what was offered for bare-knuckle three times more than what was offered for exhibition boxing,” Hardy explained to MMA Fighting. He could be fought in MMA and made four to five times the money. Or, he could be fought in bare-knuckle, causing him serious injury.

“I’m fighting him in 16-ounce gloves over two-minute rounds. He’ll remember being on the ground. I will most likely stop him using shots to his body. I’ve got no interest in brutalizing Diego Sanchez, but we’re going to have a hard sparring match, and I’m going to try and hurt him as much as I can without doing permanent damage, and we’re both going to walk away with a lot of money in our pockets. The UFC will not pay us for the crap we did. So this is a big turning point for both of us, and I think he’s just as grateful for this opportunity as I am.”

Hardy and Sanchez will face off at an expected weight of 185 pounds. Hardy (who competed in MMA welterweight during UFC’s career) believes that there is a “couple-pound allowance” on either side. He stated this on ).. The round length will not require sanctioning from the British Boxing Control Board, meaning neither fighter will need to seek a license, though Hardy said he’s undergoing a full battery of medical tests to make sure he’s fit to fight (a battle with Wolf-Parkinson-White syndrome famously stalled his UFC career). As in all other UFC exhibitions, knockouts are not prohibited. There will also be no weight limit on fight night.

Had Sanchez failed to perform against Kevin Lee at the new MMA promotion Eagle FC Hardy stated that he might have had second thoughts. He didn’t choose Sanchez as his ideal opponent. A showdown against Tyron Woodley was on his top list. But he said the former UFC welterweight champ said no, as did ex-boxing champ Paulie Malignaggi, and Sanchez said yes.

Hardy was one of a number of MMA industry veterans who voiced concern about Sanchez’s health during the infamous Joshua Fabia partnership. Sanchez is now able to justify his actions by distance from Joshua Fabia, the self-proclaimed guru.

” I want him to know that when he touches the canvas, he should not have done so with me,” Hardy stated. Even though I am an analyst, my mean streak is still there. It’s not lost on me that I have a fighting spirit, but body shots are something that I still enjoy. People would stop me in muay Thai by giving me body shots. Especially if they were talking about trash. Then they could lay down on the ground while I raised my arms as I couldn’t breathe .”


The matchup is one Hardy said has been tossed around on several occasions as promoters approached with potential offers. But even before that, he said Sanchez targeted him after he gave an unflattering opinion about Sanchez’s evolution as an MMA fighter.

“He’s always had that berserker mentality, and I think it’s because he got such a rise from the fans that it encouraged him to do it more and more,” Hardy said. “I pointed this out in an interview, and ever since, he’s been very bitter toward me, and I’ve never meant to upset him. Just say what you see. He was also upset by my comments about the warlock’s old coach. … He’s always been a little bit too sensitive to the words I’ve said, and maybe that’s why he wants to punch me in the face.”

This has not translated into any conflicts outside of the cage, Hardy stated, but it will drive both them to put on a great show at the AO arena, Manchester’s hybrid boxing/music venue, where Ricky Hatton, ex-boxing champion, is heading.

Hardy reminisces about the moment when Sanchez was the headliner in the UFC’s second fight. This fight took place with Rory Markham and served as the co-main event. (But it didn’t appear on the official poster). Hardy said he made $5,000 to show and $5,000 for his knockout win.

“Can you imagine how much the skin suits sitting cageside were making off the fact that I was selling all those tickets for them,” Hardy said. That angers me now. It angers me, the amount of money they’ve made off people like Diego, and these good promoters come along and put on shows and look after us in ways that we were never looked after by the promotion that was setting the stage for the sport as it is today. It’s embarrassing, to be honest.

“Look at Nate Diaz, for example. I know he’s making decent money with the UFC, but can you imagine what he’d be worth in a couple of fights outside the UFC. It’s crazy. And somebody’s making that money. It’s obvious to all of us — $175 millions for Crypto.com [sponsorship], this money isn’t building the sport and people live off it. We all do this because it’s what we love and what we do. And there are people who make huge amounts of money from it.

“This is the turning of the tide when people like Diego and I, we make a bit of money toward the end of our career, because this is what we do, we’re prize fighters and people put a prize on the table – the one that’s standing at the end takes the prize. We move on to opening our own gyms, and keeping this sport going forward. They will continue to line their pockets .”

Hardy won’t reveal how much he is taking home to fight Sanchez. But after helping to build MMA in his native England, his pay grade is significantly higher than his early career.

” You could take all of my pay checks from UFC, and you’d still make more,” he stated.