By Mark La Monica
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Female fighters have become more mainstream and marketable to the fan base and promoters alike. This weekend, Brooklynite Heather Hardy will make her MMA debut inside MSG. Her 20 professional boxing matches all took place in one of the five boroughs, but never at “The World’s Most Famous Arena.”
That’s one of the more talked-about reasons Brooklynite Heather Hardy, a two-division champion boxer with an undefeated record, makes her mixed martial arts debut Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
“I don’t want to say it’s about the money,” Hardy said Wednesday at Bellator NYC media day. “But I’m 35, I’m a single mom. I have a 13-year-old daughter who likes iPhones, wants cable in her room. Why not maximize my fighting years?”
She’ll earn that first MMA paycheck — and it’s bigger than her boxing paydays, she said — Saturday when she fights Alice Yauger (4-5) in a flyweight bout on the Bellator NYC prelims at Madison Square Garden. Her fight airs on Spike TV at 8 p.m.
Longtime followers of the sport may find the juxtaposition of MMA and lucrative payouts for newcomers alarming. MMA has a reputation for being very top heavy in its purses, with fighters lower on the card literally fighting to get by.
“For Heather, I think this is going to be potentially really beneficial,” said Lou DiBella, Hardy’s boxing promoter who Bellator needed to negotiate with to make this fight happen. “I want to see this lady make some money, in boxing and in MMA. I’d like to see her succeed in both sports. She’s going to be on Spike TV, national TV. That’s great. And if she looks good and she wins, that’s going to help when she gets back in to boxing. It’s going to help get her attention. This could be really a win-win for her and it could be a win-win for my company, too.”