UFC 286: Ex-fighter Dan Hardy’s wife Veronica hails him as ‘a cheat code’ after comeback win
O2 ARENA, LONDON – Three years and four days after Veronica Hardy last fought, husband Dan watched on proudly as the flyweight assessed his influence on her MMA comeback, in the aftermath of a tactically-astute victory over Juliana Miller at UFC 286.
Taking on The Ultimate Fighter winner Miller on the undercard of Leon Edwards and Kamaru Usman’s title fight at the O2 Arena, Hardy stayed out of trouble and pounced judiciously on opportunities to leave her opponent with a lump on her head and a surprise unanimous decision defeat, prevailing 30-27 on all three scorecards.
“When you’re married to Dan Hardy, he analyses everything, right?” Hardy said afterwards while her spouse, who challenged Georges St-Pierre for the welterweight title in 2010 among his 10 UFC fights, smiled sweetly in the wings.
“He watched a lot of her grappling and her combat Jiu-Jitsu is phenomenal. We saw it as an opportunity, when she goes for something, to maintain calm, maintain a good position and strike, because you’ll find a lot of good positions there.
“You’ve got Dan Hardy, who’s the best analyst in the world, telling you ‘you can do it, you can do great things in this division’. You’ve got to give him respect for the man that he is and I’m very grateful to have had him here.”
A victory three years in the making! 👏
🇻🇪 Veronica Hardy opens Fight Day with a well-deserved win! #UFC286 pic.twitter.com/o3PcPBT14z
— UFC_Asia (@UFC_Asia) March 18, 2023
Hardy previously retired from MMA with concussion issues after losing by decision to Bea Malecki at UFC 170 in March 2020, giving her a fourth defeat in five UFC fights, having previously been unbeaten as a professional.
The 27-year-old harshly described her own record with the promotion as “pretty horrific” but was more balanced in discussing how she raised her game before her comeback.
“We had to go past looking at the results and realise that a lot of it was decision making or not prepping properly for fights, rather than my ability,” said Hardy.
“Seeing other people living the dream and doing what I want to do was motivating. There were a lot of things that I wanted to work on and implement in there in regards to grappling and taking down.
“You can get caught with any shot so it was… maybe not so much ring rust, because I feel like I’ve been fighting my entire life, but I had to think a lot more. Hopefully in my future fights, I won’t have to think so much.”
Juliana Miller was a -410 favorite against Veronica Hardy who was a +310 underdog.
Huge upset by Veronica Hardy getting the takedowns and out striking Juliana Miller winning via unanimous decision (30-27×3) #UFC286
— Combat Sports Today 📰 (@CSTodayNews) March 18, 2023
A little insider knowledge also may have helped. Hardy has worked with one of Miller’s coaches, Richie Martinez, at San Diego Combat Academy.
“He tells you to go for the finish and go for the kill all the time,” she said, describing the approach of an opponent known as ‘Killer’ who roared “I am the best” on her way into the ring and repeatedly went for submissions.
“I knew that was the case and I needed to find ways to keep myself safe, put in strikes and stay calm. I knew if I did that, I could withstand the submission attacks.”
Hardy believes her next fight could beckon in “July or so”. In the meantime, the experience of the man she married in December 2022 will continue to be hugely beneficial.
“It’s like a cheat code to the game. If he can’t show me the way to do it, he can find a fighter and an example and ways to apply it.
“Even if it’s something that’s not a strong point, he’ll take you to a gym. He’s contributed so much of his life to help me out.
“Dan doesn’t need to do this. He has so much more important stuff to do. He’s taking the time to put all this energy into me. I’m going to give it my all.”