Over the last few years, perhaps the two biggest topics in the mixed martial arts (MMA) world are fighters lobbying for bigger paychecks or asking for the opportunity to crossover to the boxing world.
In fact, those two things seem to go hand-in-hand because most Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) stars understand that boxing is more often than not way more lucrative. According to former UFC Welterweight title contender, Dan Hardy, a bigger pay day is the reason he and Diego Sanchez opted to face each other in a boxing ring rather than an MMA cage.
“The honest truth is this is a good middle ground financially, because what we were being offered for MMA was pitiful, and what was being offered for bare-knuckle was three times what we were being offered for exhibition boxing,” Hardy told MMA Fighting. “I could either fight him in MMA, and we’d have to fight four or five times to make the same money, or I could fight him in bare-knuckle and do lots of really serious damage to him.”
Hardy and Sanchez are set to collide on July 2, 2022, in Manchester, England, on the undercard of the Ricky Hatton vs. Marco Antonio Barrera-led event. Hardy, 40, hasn’t competed in more than 10 years after his MMA career was halted because of being diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome (also known as “Wolf Heart”).
Nevertheless, he says he has passed all medical clearances needed to partake in the boxing match. For “The Outlaw,” getting the chance to return to combat sports — while getting paid handsomely for it — is an opportunity he couldn’t pass up, especially when looks back at his early days of getting paid $5,000 to show and $5,000 to 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 right 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,” he added before saying many current UFC stars could be making way more cash outside of the Octagon.
“Look at Nate Diaz, for example. I know he’s making decent money with UFC, but can you imagine what he’d be worth in a couple of fights outside the UFC,” Hardy continued. “It’s crazy. And somebody’s making that money. We all know it — $175 million for Crypto.com [sponsorship], that money’s going in people’s pockets, and it’s not building the sport, and we all live off the sport. This is what we do and what we love, and there’s people skimming massive amounts of money off the top of it, and we’re all sitting here watching it.”
For Hardy, the fact that he and Diego can collect a huge paycheck at the end of their careers in boxing proves once and for all that’s where the big money is.
“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. Then we move on and we open up our own gyms and keep this sport moving forward, because the skin suits at the top aren’t going to do it. They’re going to keep lining their pockets.”
As far as how much he will be making for the fight, the British brawler says this one paycheck will be more than he has made in his 10-fight UFC career total that spanned just a total of four years altogether.
“You could add all my paychecks together from UFC and I’m still making more doing this,” he said.
Furthermore, Hardy says his first option was to face either former UFC 170-pound champion, Tyron Woodley, or long-time boxing veteran, Paulie Malignaggi, but both men opted to pass on the opportunity.