The two will meet on July 2 in Manchester, England, at the AO Arena, according to a report from MMA Fighting. Promotion officials told the outlet the two will square off on a boxing card headlined by Ricky Hatton and Marco Antonio Barrera.
The exhibition bout is scheduled for eight rounds and “The Outlaw” and Sanchez will participate in a press conference on April 24, MMA Fighting reported.
This event will make mark Hardy’s first combat sports bout in nearly a decade. The 25-10 professional mixed martial artist last fought during UFC on Fuel TV 5 when he defeated Amir Sadollah by unanimous decision on September 29, 2012. Hardy has been chomping at the bit to get back to action, and he’s found himself in a contest with “The Nightmare.”
Sanchez is coming off the heels of his unanimous decision loss to Kevin Lee last month during Eagle FC 46. Although the 40-year-old combatant was defeated, he performed much better against Lee than many expected he would. And after the fight, Sanchez shared his intentions to continue fighting.
Hardy & Sanchez Have Been ‘On a Collision Course’ for Years
Hardy and Sanchez have been around a long time in MMA, and according to The Outlaw, they’ve been on a “collision course” for years. That’s what he said in a recent interview on his “Full Reptile” YouTube channel.
“Diego and I have been on a bit of a collision course for a long while. I think it was back in like 2006 when we got a faceoff when we were fighting in Holland,” Hardy said via BJPenn.com. “It’s always been on the cards.
“I mean, we’ve always been in the same weight class. He was slightly ahead of me in his UFC career. So, like, as I signed with the UFC, I was watching him fight the likes of Clay Guida at the Pearl at the Palms. I’ve got some good memories of Diego’s fights. You know what you’re going to get with him. He’s an animal. He comes to scrap every time.”
Hardy Is Confident He’ll Finish Sanchez Within the Distance
Even though The Outlaw and The Nightmare will be competing with 16-ounce boxing gloves as opposed to five-ounce MMA gloves, Hardy is confident he’ll get the finish.
He views this scrap with Sanchez as the first fight in what marks his combat sports comeback.
“This is big gloves boxing, this is 16-ounce gloves over eight rounds so we can beat the hell out of each other and have a lot of fun with it,” Hardy saidA. “I’m still confident I’m gonna be able to stop him inside the distance, but it’s gonna be a bit more difficult with the 16-ounce gloves and with just one skillset, but this is a good place for me to start, get myself back in proper condition, proper fight shape and then we’ll see where we’ll go from there.
“I think there are other options with Diego, assuming I don’t beat him up too badly in this boxing match. We might be able to do MMA, or bare-knuckle, or something afterward. This is the first step in the rung of the ladder if that makes sense.”