Heather Hardy Retires After Worries Over Brain Damage

May 8, 2024
3 weeks
Dave Mandel-USA TODAY Sports

Heather Hardy will no longer compete in combat sports, as the 42-year-old confirmed her retirement. 

Hardy has had a glittering career in boxing and MMA. She began her fighting career late at the age of 28 in boxing. She racked up an impressive win streak, winning 22 fights in a row. That form took her to her first world title when she beat Shelly Vincent to secure the WBO Featherweight Title.

However, things did not end well after that. Hardy came up short in her first defence, losing to Amanda Serrano. Losing to Serrano was no shame since she would later become the Undisputed Featherweight Champion. She left boxing with a  24-3 record.

Hardy then pursued her career in MMA, joining Bellator for four fights. She had four bouts with a mixed 2-2 record. Her last bout was in 2019, when she was stopped by Taylor Turner at Bellator 222. Hardy then took some time away from Bellator. She was expected to face BKFC Featherweight Champion Christine Ferea on May 11. The fight was called off as Hardy withdrew, claiming she was struggling with concussions that led to brain damage. Her retirement was then the next natural step. 

Hardy’s Retirement

“My fight for May 11 is off. After my last fight with Amanda [Serrano], my vision remained blurred for a few days. I went for an MRI and to get my eyes checked while I was still in TX and it was diagnosed the after-effects of a concussion [but in] six to eight months I should be fine,” Hardy wrote. “So basically I needed a fight, and it (the vision issue) never got better.

“My daughter is in college. Everyone thinks I made millions in my career but I didn’t, I went pay check to pay check keeping that kid in the best neighbourhood so she could go to the best schools. And I needed to take the fight, so long story short, a month into training for Christine [Ferea] and everything got worse with my sight. I was down to 123 pounds because I couldn’t eat, I wasn’t sleeping I was so weak,” Hardy said

Hardy is unlikely to return to combat sports. She has nothing to prove, having won at world level. She has enough ventures outside combat sports to keep her going. The 42-year-old is also a trainer. She has plenty of knowledge to pass on to the next generation of female boxers and MMA fighters. The rise of female combat sports has increased the opportunities for Hardy to leave her mark. However, before she considers anything else, she is focused on fixing her herself.

Hardy’s Future

“I hadn’t told anyone how bad it was, not my boyfriend, not my coaches. I thought I could make it through the ten-minute fight, but after a very light sparring session I couldn’t see…for two days. [And] I didn’t eat or sleep from Friday to Monday, and I knew I was too weak…

“After finally seeing a doctor, he said I’ve had too many concussions. When you have a concussion, a piece of your brain dies and you never get it back. Imagine that? In ten years I’ve had too much brain damage. I can’t get any more or else I won’t be able to see. No running, no jogging, no jumping rope, and no getting hit in the head. So I said the thing ya know what that means,” Heather stated 

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