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Hearty Hardy does not plan to quit fighting

ESPN staff
March 26, 2013

England's Dan Hardy insists he does not plan to quit fighting as a result of Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome, but concedes the UFC may yet make that decision for him.

Hardy had been scheduled to fight Matt Brown at UFC on Fox 7, headlined by Benson Henderson v Gilbert Melendez on April 20. However, a failed EKG pulled him from the fight on account of a heart condition.

Hardy explains more to Bloody Elbow: "California requires extra testing, one of the tests being an EKG. I have had an EKG one other time before this one. I had taken a short notice fight while I was training at ATT with Paul Daley in 2004.

"That was the only time anything's really ever been noticed. Since then, I've never had an EKG. I've never had any symptoms, either. I'm in great shape. I'm in better shape than I've ever been in my life, which is ironic."

While Hardy's heart condition, more commonly referred to as Wolf-Heart, has not affected his career to date, once detected by a Commission he cannot be cleared to fight. Therefore, a future decision for both he and the UFC is whether Hardy continues to fight in states where he can pass pre-fight medicals, or his long-term health is protected by bringing an end to his career.

"I've been thinking about it, and I don't want to think for a second that I'm done fighting, because I still love training and fighting," Hardy said. "At the same time, I also feel that there are lots of other things that I should be doing, things that I should be concentrating on in different areas of my life.

"What it comes down to, though, is what the UFC is going to have to say on it. I certainly don't know where the UFC stands on using me to fight in other states, because obviously now, this will be on my medical record. I've got a wolf heart, and now everybody knows it!

"Then you have to wonder if the UFC can use me on shows in Europe or Australia, or things like that. Those are also options to consider."

Hardy seems open to both scenarios. He plans to fight on if the UFC deems it safe for him to do so, but the Brit will also be open to a career change if life points him in such a direction.

"Maybe my journey through martial arts was to get me to this stage, where I can approach whatever comes next. I'm certainly feeling like it's a prod from the universe to kind of reassess and look at where I'm at, because I know there are a lot of things I want to do in my life as well, so this might be a good sign to refocus and do something different.

"The problem with fighting, particularly with the pace and level that I have been, you don't have time for anything else. It dominates your whole life. It's very difficult to step away for a week and just focus on something else. Always in the back of your mind, you've got thoughts of the next fight. It's a constant preoccupation, and I really want to start to look at other things in my life, as well.

They might be able to go in and fix it, by burning it out, but if it's too close to the main heartbeat, they can't touch it. I'm very much of the opinion, 'If it's not broke, don't fix it.'

"If it was determined that I shouldn't or couldn't fight anymore, there would be a transitional period, and in that middle ground, there may be something I could do to help the sport in another way, and if that's through the UFC, I would love it. I'm a huge UFC fan, and it's always great to be a part of it. I will continue to help people in the gym, as well. I'm working with Mike Pyle and Mac Danzig for their fights. Even Amir Sadollah, I'm helping him with his next fight.

"I'm still going to be around the sport. I wouldn't put distance between it and myself like I couldn't deal with it. It's a part of me, and it always will be, so if there's something I can do to help the sport, then most definitely, I will. If this means that I've got to move away from fighting, like I'm not allowed to fight anymore, then it might be time, and I might have to step away. We'll just have to let it play out, and see what happens."

One thing Hardy will not do is have surgery to correct the issue. "I just know that, at this point, I'm not going to have the surgery, because I don't think I really need it," he said. "If, at any point, I start to feel like it might be necessary, I'll start considering it. As of right now, I'm good, and I don't want anybody messing with me.

"Usually, when people have this, they have one, main heartbeat, and then they have two or three weaker electrical connections that are kind of sporadic. Sometimes it can cause a panic attack or palpitations. The problem with me is that I have my main heartbeat, then I have the secondary heartbeat, which is almost as strong as the main one. It's kind of an odd situation. They might be able to go in and fix it, by burning it out, but if it's too close to the main heartbeat, they can't touch it. I'm very much of the opinion, 'If it's not broke, don't fix it.'"

Hardy admits he would be frustrated if he never got to step back into the Octagon, after answering a four-fight losing streak with back-to-back wins. He has worked hard to change his style in recent months and desperately wanted to show his progression against Brown.

"I was actually looking forward to having a few fights, particularly against Matt Brown, who really brings that instinct to make it a real dogfight," he said. "Now, I might not get those opportunities, which is quite disappointing. I am certainly looking and hoping to have those personal experiments in the cage, to tap into that reptilian brain.

"There's a particular point in a fight where you really stop over-thinking the situation. There have been times for me where I've got my opponent in front of me and my mind is going from various different days in training camps and stuff that I've worked on, combinations I've worked on, game plans. My mind is all over the place, and I'm really trying to focus in and concentrate on the fight.

"That's when you start over-thinking things. That's when you get caught with stupid stuff. I want to get past that, because there's also another stage where it's almost like you're a passenger in your own body. You switch off, and you just work off instinct. I've not been able to access that whenever I wanted.

"In the Ludwig fight, it didn't happen until he cracked me with a good right hand, and then I kind of switched on to autopilot. It's very much like meditation, and I'm trying to reach that point more consistently in my fights."

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