“I tried the things, guys. I tried,” posted Heather Hardy, the morning after she lost to Taylor Turner at Madison Square Garden, at a Bellator MMA show, which also screened on DAZN.
And I think for the masses, that's the top takeaway here. Hardy, age 37, is a full-blooded fighter, who at this time fights for a living. And because A grade paydays are hard to come by in the pugilism realm, she looked to widen her skill set two years ago, and learn more so she could also compete in mixed martial arts.
Her record in MMA is 2-2, and on Saturday night, she came up a against a taller foe who seemed to possess more experience in jiu-jitsu. Turner got Hardy to the mat, got on top of her, and rained down blows as the Brooklyn-based combatant, who represents the famed and fabled Gleason's Gym, sought to block, and slip or slide out and get to a more advantageous position. She couldn't get Turner off of her, and the ref told Hardy to fight back, or he'd stop it. The Gerritsen Beach native tried, mightily, but the 36 year old Turner (3-5 entering) was too big, too strong.
Kicking off, a watcher had to be strucken by the fact that Turner seemed giddy as she readied to fight. Turner looked like she was about to have a karaoke party with galpals as her name was announced. Seemed she was in her element…
The 5-10 Tennessean and the 5-5 heard the bell ring to start round one….They traded leg kicks, strikes and then clinched up, at the cage. To the mat they went, Hardy on top. Turner slid out, and they both stood upright, still in grapple mode. Turner tugged HH to the floor, and sought side control. Hardy “tried the things,” but Turner had answers. She at 3:39 had full mount control. Turner dropped down fists, Hardy tried to switch up position, and Turner had her back, wanted a choke. Hardy with her left hand kept that right forearm from snaking under her neck. She was “trying the things,” and showing she'd had Gracie tutoring. Would Hardy get choked out? No, she made sure that left arm wasn't getting position to block her breathing. Then Turner dropped that plan, and hopped on and started throwing fists, hammers and elbows. At 2:10, at 1:55, Hardy was defending and the ref wanted her to answer. She answered by trying to block incoming. Her toughness was on display, and at 1:17, the ref told her again to try and get out, answer..of he'd stop it. Turner was tired, her shots lost steam…but then an elbow, and another, and the ref called for a halt.
Turner made sure Hardy was OK, Hardy told her she was, Hardy told the ref he did the right thing, and then the winner was announced.
But Hardy won, too. I know, not officially. She's 2-2 in MMA and will be re-thinking how much more double-dipping she's inclined to do.
“I knew it would be hard,” she told me on Saturday morning. “I just didn't win.” I noted that Turner seemed to maybe have more BJJ experience; Hardy didn't take that bait. “I just didn't win.”
And now, maybe, some of the hardest time. The world keeps turning and the family and the friends have to do their job, make that rent money, and friends attend to their goings on. There is down time, time to feel the pain of the bruises, and the losing. She can swipe social accounts. She will see stuff from jackasses, like this guy:
And she will see material like this, which should and could cheer her, from the boxing promoter Lou Dibella:
I had the DAZN replay on, Saturday morning, and my 8 year old watched. “That's good sportsmanship,” Juliette said, as Turner and Hardy hugged, before the emcee told all that Turner won.
And perhaps knowing this is nothing but the mildest salve, but end of the day, really, stuff like sportsmanship is actually the most important. Society tells you to get the bags, accumulate wealth, grow your empire. And, c'mon now, you see how that messaging is working out? Give me the 2-2 strivers, the ones that are in the arena, who see the blood spill is their own…but soldier on, and smile, and yes, cry maybe when alone, and consider quitting, but don't.
Show me those sorts of “winners,” and I will tell their stories, because they deserve it.
Hardy will fight on, and help other folks who are tired from trudging to put that one foot in front of the other, and fight on, too. That's winning, too, my friends.