There is no more oft asked question for a fighter than “how has camp been” as they do press before a forthcoming scrap. Yep, it’s a boring-ass query, signaling a lack of imagination, arguably, but even a sub-scintillating query can play out well, given to the right subject.
Heather Hardy, the 20-0 boxer and 1-1 MMAer who’ll next glove up on Feb. 16, at Mohegan Sun against Ana Julaton (2-3 in MMA; 14-4-3 in boxing; age 37) in a Bellator MMA scrap, offered up an insightful response when I asked her how her camp has been, following her first loss as a professional, which came last October, when a Kristina Williams kick rendered her nose unfit for service.
“This camp has been great,” said Hardy, age 36, who makes Gleason's Gym her boxing home.
“I think the biggest lesson I learned in my last fight, was that I’m not able to solve every problem with my boxing. I need other tricks to call on when my boxing isn’t getting the job done, so the last few months have been adding to the arsenal.”
So you get it that she’s seemingly adapted smartly to the loss, and decided that she’d need to add to her repertoire to succeed as she wants to within MMA. “I’m excited to test everything out,” the Brooklyn resident stated.
And what of that nose. It’s held up in camp, in sparring, it’s behaving itself?
“Nose is still where it belongs,” she responded, slyly.
No, she said, she isn’t over-protecting the noggin in training, won’t be gun-shy come fight night against Julaton. “I’m not over anything,” Hardy said. “It’s like it never happened.”
Hmm, seems like maybe the loss maybe made her mentally stronger? “Nah. I’m the same old. I didn’t define myself as an “undefeated” fighter, and I didn’t let this loss get to my head either. It’s just a thing. Like losses in life…you bite down, you get up, then you carry on.”
I was curious…did anyone treat her differently after her loss…like, they had defined her as “unbeaten” and it threw them for a loop? “I didn’t feel defeated. I learned a lesson,” the Gleason's boxer said, deftly re-directing the query, with the point being, eff em if they did, I’m good with me, I’m accepting of my worth and people can react how they want, I can’t and won’t change their POVs.
And back to the boring ole “camp” question…
MMA camp, the pacing of it, versus a boxing camp. How is it different? Or is it pretty much the same animal to tame? “No, it’s really different because it means traveling to different gyms and finding different training partners. You can’t exactly practice jiu-jitsu alone, lol. It’s not like boxing where you can do solitary workouts. It takes a lot more time to dedicate to the different disciplines of training. It’s challenging because I can’t be as flexible with my work and Annie (her daughter) schedule. I have to line everything up right.”
And training for MMA, it seems like a more interactive, possibly more social scenario, than training in boxing…
“My training partners are really good to me and we always make time but it’s challenging when you have to build an entire day and schedule around it,” she said. “Especially now when I have to still cram in work, Annie and fight press and media.”
I take that as my cue to let her be! My three cents: This back and forth helped remind me the depth of the effort these fighters offer. Fight sports are brutal and punishing and the hourly wage sometimes sucks, compared to the output of energy and effort and time…so, let’s all remember that when we get tempted to critique too hard, shall we?
Here is info on how to get tickets to see Heather Hardy’s next fight.