(This story appeared in today’s edition of USA TODAY.)
After being diagnosed with a rare heart disorder, UFC welterweight Dan Hardy has decided against corrective surgery, even if it might end his fighting career.
“I don’t see a reason why I would let someone go in and start messing with it,” he told USA TODAY Sports and MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “That’s an easy decision to make.”
Hardy was barred by the California State Athletic Commission from competing April 20 at UFC on FOX 7 in San Jose when a prefight electrocardiogram revealed markers of Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. He said he’ll place his fate in the hands of the UFC and should know this week whether the promotion will risk putting him in the octagon.
Most state athletic commissions likely would throw up a red flag on Hardy competing, but the UFC regulates many of its own events overseas in the absence of a commission.
Hardy (25-10 MMA, 6-4 UFC), 30, said there are no guarantees the surgery would fix an irregularity in his heart, which, according to doctors, sends additional electricity through it upon its second contraction. Most with Wolff- Parkinson-White suffer from heart palpitations and a rapid heartbeat but, in extreme cases, there is danger of sudden cardiac arrest if the strength of the heart’s second contraction exceeds the first.
Tests revealed Hardy, a onetime UFC welterweight title challenger, had a resting heart rate of 42 beats a minute and a maximum of 200, mirroring other superbly conditioned athletes. Hardy said he’s forgoing the operation because he’s never had symptoms of the syndrome.
“I know I’m approaching the end of my career,” Hardy said. “I’ve got to weigh whether it’s worth me taking the risk and getting the surgery to have a couple more fights I might not enjoy being a part of anyway.”
While promoting UFC on FOX 7, Hardy, who last year took a spiritual retreat to Peru, told news reporters he ideally would like to retire next year after a five-fight winning streak that ended with a defense of the welterweight title. He said he was unhappy with the business side of mixed martial arts and expressed a desire to return to school to complete a doctorate in philosophy.
“The business side of it is cutthroat, and at times it can be very unfair,” he said. “The meatheadedness around it, I don’t like any of it. It’s just ego for the sake of ego, and I can’t evolve into the person that I want to be in my life while being a part of it. That occurred to me when I was in South America.”
With the health development, his timetable for the next chapter in his life might have changed.
“They’re not options for me,” Hardy said. “They’re options for the UFC and whether they want to take a risk and whether, in fact, they see me as a risk. Everyone’s seen my fights. I never make an easy night of it. It’s always a scrap. I’ve been in the trenches, and I’ve never had any problems.
“I don’t see any reason why they wouldn’t use me, but, obviously, the decision is out of my hands.”
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