“Timeout,” called the referee.
The fight paused as ring doctors evaluated Hardy’s eye. She was allowed to continue, probably because she was winning the round.
“Oh my God!” she said after the fight of her thought process in that moment. “I’m telling the ref ‘it’s a headbutt, don’t you dare stop this fight.’ He’s like ‘I know Heather, relax.’ I so wanted to finish.”
Almost immediately after the fight resumed, Hardy knocked Yauger down with a thunderous overhand right, and Hardy allowed Yauger to get back up as opposed to going for a full mount ground-and-pound to finish matters.
Hardy put Yauger down a second time, and again Yauger quickly bounced up. As the Madison Square Garden crowd roared with jubilant pleasure, Hardy pounced on her staggering foe and pummeled her on the cage before the referee mercifully ended the bout.
So Hardy won her first MMA bout by knockout against Yauger, who entered with a 4-5 MMA record (and a 2-3 boxing record from the early 2000’s). Hardy, whose boxing record stands at a perfect 20-0 with four knockouts, wasn’t looking for the stoppage initially.
It found her.
“I really wasn’t pushing for it until I saw that I had it,” she said, bloodied and bruised but laughing with confidence. “I was trying to keep the pressure on her. I wasn’t thinking of the finish, but I knew I could get it.”
The crowd, to no surprise, was undoubtedly behind the local girl, a usual experience for the 35-year old Brooklynite from Gerritsen Beach. As joyous and as supportive as they were, she insists that she didn’t hear a thing.
“It’s funny, when you walk in there, whether it’s the ring or the cage, all you see is the other girl,” she said. “You don’t notice that you’re in the Garden fighting. It was really a matter of adjusting to the fight itself, not really jitters as much as getting the fight done.”
Hardy was satisfied with her performance, and moving forward she’s sticking to her initial plan, which she shared with this paper last week. She will now be co-promoted in both boxing and MMA.
Expect her next fight, wherever it is and whatever rules there are, to be in the not-so-distant future.
“I’m so happy right now,” she said. “I don’t even care that I have stitches on my face. A lot of people thought that I couldn’t do it or I wouldn’t do it.”
As for the remainder of Bellator, the Pay-Per-View portion of the card saw three first-round finishes: a 24-second submission win for Zach Freeman over the hot prospect American freestyle wrestler Aaron Pico; a Brent Primus lightweight title win over now former-champion Michael Chandler, who suffered a leg injury; and Matt Mitrione, who TKO’d legend Fedor Emelianenko in 1:14.
The main event saw Chael Sonnen smother his way to victory over Wanderlei Silva in a heavyweight clash.