One-time UFC welterweight title challenger and MMA analyst Dan Hardy would drop everything to work again for the promotion despite his recent exit as a cageside commentator.
“If they called me up and they’re like, ‘Hey, parachute in on a Union Jack flag for [UFC] 261,’ I’d be there in a heartbeat,” he told Submission Radio. “It’s just a weird place, because I just kind of don’t know exactly what’s happened.”
Hardy, of course, knows a disagreement with a UFC staffer preceded his departure, which came to light not because it was officially announced but through a report that forced him to respond to what he felt was misinformation about what really happened.
Hardy admits he could have communicated better when the disagreement took place. But he also believes he was responding honestly to what was a frustrating situation.
“I understand what my side of it was,” he said. “It was a disagreement about an opportunity that should’ve come to me, that never made it to me. And a whole bunch of other people knew about it, apart from me. And I didn’t know why. So, when I asked the person, I didn’t get the truth. And that was frustrating. I think a big part of it was the embarrassment.
“It could have been dealt with better on my part, absolutely. I could have had the conversation in a different place, without there being other people there. But I’m not a corporate individual. I’m a fighter that put on a shirt and tie and did a grown-up’s job. I’m still a kid, and I don’t play these corporate games where people are watching out for their jobs and, ‘Oh, you know,’ it’s just not me. And I just talk to everybody the same. I’m to the point. That’s how I am.”
While Hardy is concerned UFC President Dana White may have the wrong idea about him, he also believes he was in the right for speaking out about what he believed were serious mistakes made by veteran referee Herb Dean.
In his first extended interview since his departure, Hardy opened up about what happened with the UFC employee and his perspective on the fallout from his run-in with Dean, which prompted White to threaten termination to any other UFC staffer who confronted officials.
Hardy believes that situation was the catalyst for his fallout with the UFC executive.
“I mean, we discussed it, but I think [White’s] perspective is still that I got out from my seat, took my headset off, went over and I was waiting at the octagon door for Herb to come out,” he said. “Like, I still hear that come up on social media from time to time. And then this troll account was started up that’s pretending to be Herb Dean’s wife. I didn’t even know he was married. I’ve never met his wife.
“It’s just fed into this weird kind of misinformation. I mean it’s the times that we’re living, isn’t it? The generation of fake news. And that’s the problem, when Dana was asked about it at the press conference, he wasn’t clear about the information that he had. And I still very much feel like Dana feels like I approached Herb. Which I didn’t.”
It was Dean who approached the broadcast area, Hardy maintains, and initiated the conflict and then spread misinformation about what happened.
“There’s a monitor in front of me that says Dell on the back,” he said. “That’s my monitor for the fights. And if you look at the photo, it’s Herb’s arm that is over my monitor. I’m standing at my desk, ready to turn around because we’re doing separated interviews. Trinaldo’s already made his way out of the octagon. So, I’ve got to turn around and face a camera that’s behind me. But in the process of me standing up and taking my headset off to turn around and face the camera, I noticed that Herb is already on his way over to my desk from the octagon. And I know he said that he didn’t know who it was, but that’s nonsense. Because if you watch the end of the fight, you’ll see he turns and he points at me through the cage. He knew it was me that shouted it. Not in the history of the UFC has a fight ever been stopped by the commission yelling ‘stop the fight.’”
Since then, Hardy said, Dean has continued to make mistakes in the octagon. That’s put him in a familiar position with the veteran official, but one he doesn’t shy away from given what’s at stake inside the octagon.
“So, I’m the stop the fight guy,” he said. “F*ck it, I don’t care, because I’m speaking out for something that’s important. And it’s like this weird misinformation that’s happened about it, where I’m like there picking a fight for some kind of personal benefit. It’s just f*cking nonsense. Like, what a stupid thing to say. Like, I don’t really know Jai Herbert. I know him as well as I know [Francisco] Trinaldo. It doesn’t matter if the situation was reversed, it’d be the same situation.
“And it’s not about Herb, but like, generally we have mistakes made consistently in the sport. And it’s one thing if it’s a no-contest instead of a DQ. We’re talking about maybe thirty grand difference in Darren Stewart’s pocket. But the reality is, it’s a mistake. That wasn’t a no contest, it was a disqualification. Like, bullsh*t about baiting a knee to the head. So, what? It’s still an illegal shot. It’s still an illegal knee to the head. And not in any jurisdiction aside from Pride rules is that OK.
“I mean, you can see now I can speak, so I can say exactly what I like, I don’t get it. Like, he’s working the majority of the events in Las Vegas, he’s considered the gold standard of the sport, but he makes a mistake almost on a weekly basis at this point. Like, who’s gonna call him out on it? I’ll do it. I don’t care.”
Speaking out has had its own consequences, but Hardy hopes that eventually cooler heads prevail and White and the rest of the promotion understands where he’s coming from.
If he never returns, Hardy said he’ll still love the UFC and work as hard as before in breaking down fights.
“I mean, it’s just an awkward situation,” he said. “And it’s frustrating, because I find myself outside of the UFC now. But at the same time, I don’t know, the last few weeks have just felt so much lighter and freer. I mean, I can just cover combat sports now. And there was kind of a weird lag between having the call with the UFC where they decided we were going to part ways, and the news breaking. And the way it was broken was rather hurtful. And I don’t know how or why or whether it was intentional or coincidental for clickbait or whatever. But the way that it was worded just insinuated so much more than it actually was. And I had colleagues there, people that I work with, that I’m still working with now that were there, that were witness to it.
“Obviously, with the fact that I’m not an employee of the UFC and the fact that I’m a contractor to the UFC, it’s very difficult for me to find out any more information. I’ve not spoken to Dana or anybody else. As far as I understand, I’m still under contract as a fighter. But that’s obviously something I’d need to figure out, because I would like to fight and I would imagine other options would land on the table. But the weird lag. There was like a couple of weeks between my parting with the UFC and then the news coming out. And that was a bit of a weird kind of waiting period, because I didn’t how exactly how it was going to be received. But the support has been incredible. The community, the MMA community has just been amazing. They’ve rallied around. I’ve had amazing support across the board. You know, BT Sport have obviously heard the comments and heard the fans, and that’s why I’ve got my own show now. The focus for me is helping people understand MMA.”
Check out the full interview below: