Heather Hardy, in some ways, understands the monumental task Conor McGregor has taken on in his fight against Floyd Mayweather.
Hardy, a 35-year-old fighter from Brooklyn, went 20-0 in her professional boxing career, then decided to follow the money and train as an MMA fighter.
In Hardy’s MMA debut in 2017, she knocked out Alice Yauger at Bellator 180, making the transition as successfully as one could.
While McGregor is doing the opposite, going from MMA to boxing, Hardy understands what it takes to move between the sports — and she doesn’t think it will go well for McGregor.
“What you’re doing is you’re putting Conor McGregor into a situation where he’s holding back nine-tenths of his arsenal and giving it to somebody like Floyd, who knows how to use his two hands and watch two hands better than anyone on the planet,” Hardy told Business Insider. “Mayweather is a master at reading hands.”
Hardy said she finds boxing easier since moving to MMA. There are two weapons to guard against in boxing — no kicks, flying knees, take-downs, etc. In MMA, she has to be at a safe distance from all sorts of attacks; in boxing, the distance is different.
McGregor’s biggest advantages going into the fight have been considered his size and reach. But even at a closer distance than MMA, Hardy is not sure those factors will help McGregor much.
“Canelo Alvarez’s size and height and reach didn’t matter — [Mayweather] played with Canelo. Canelo’s one of the best fighters out there; he played with him when they boxed. When Mayweather boxed Canelo, he was playing, he was laughing, he made it look so easy,” Hardy said.
“I don’t know that Conor McGregor, even if there were two of him in that ring, could matter.”
Hardy noted that she is not trying to downplay McGregor’s talent or toughness, but fighting who she called “the greatest boxer of all time, on paper” is too big of a challenge for a first professional boxing match.
“If both of those guys got in a fight on the street, McGregor would whoop his arse,” Hardy said. “He’s gonna go in there and fight the greatest boxer of all-time in his pro debut in boxing? I mean, maybe against a lesser boxer he’d do great.”
Hardy said while there’s no obvious game plan to beating Mayweather — it’s not as if others haven’t tried — she would try to find a counter to Mayweather’s go-to move.
“One of Floyd’s best moves in every fight is he slips back and counters with the right hand,” Hardy said. “Slip back, counter with the right hand. I’d be trying to work something off that… It could be a fake, try to get him to do it, maybe follow-up with a 1-2, 1-2 so when Floyd tries to lean back, he gets caught with something. I don’t know, it never worked before, but I guess if I had to pick, I would do it.”
Hardy said she also wouldn’t advise McGregor to try to knock Mayweather out, saying swinging wildly and entering the ring uptight will only open things up for Mayweather.
In the end, Hardy said it’s Mayweather’s fight to lose.
“Mayweather can make this as long or as short as he wants. If he wants to knock him out in the first, he’ll knock him out in the first. If he wants to play with him for 12 rounds, that’s how it’s gonna go. He’s gonna win the fight exactly how he wants.”