For many years, Dan Hardy was known best as a brash UFC contender, quickly identified by his red mohawk and trademark scowl as he entered the cage.
While he never formally retired from competition, the Brit has spent the past 10 years developing an entirely different reputation—that of a respected analyst capable of offering subtle nuances both on the action that takes place inside of a cage, as well as the progress of MMA outside of the fighting enclosure.
For that reason, PFL CEO Peter Murray said, “The Outlaw” was a natural fit to head up the company's newly launched PFL Europe as director of fighter operations.
“We’re really excited to have Dan Hardy join PFL Europe as our head of fighter operations, and we're bringing together the greatest athletes and minds in MMA and broader sports in building the PFL and expanding globally,” Murray told MMA Underground. “PFL Europe is our first of six regional international leagues we will launch in the next three years, and it’s an exciting moment.
“This is our global vision. We’re executing against our vision, and there’ll be more to come with developments tied to other regions around the world and PFL international leagues in different territories, so it’s very exciting, and Dan is nothing but credibility in the sport of MMA on so many levels. It’s very important we have that credibility, that expertise and authenticity as part of these regional leagues—not just our fighters, but our organizations.”
The PFL launched in 2018 with a unique format, in which fighters take part in regular-season contests each year in hopes of qualifying for playoff bouts and ultimately advancing to an annual final, where winners take home $1 million.
The company’s new regional organizations will operate in similar fashion, with season winners taking home $100,000 and earning an opportunity to take part in future global competitions.
Murray said Hardy will have a significant role with PFL Europe while also remaining on board as an analyst for the company’s marquee global events, as well.
“Dan will continue to play a role in our global products, our global events, as an analyst,” Murray explained. “When it comes to PFL Europe events, he is our head of fighter operations representing the PFL, representing PFL Europe, and overseeing all fighter operations, including longer-term identifying, recruiting and signing MMA athletes from Europe into PFL Europe, managing all the operations, as well as evaluating the talent.”
PFL Europe will debut Saturday, with 2023 PFL Europe 1 set to take place in European prime time from Vertu Motors Arena in Newcastle, England. The card, as well as all this season’s PFL Europe events, will stream live on DAZN throughout Europe and on Fubo Sports Network in the U.S.
PFL Europe will also visit Germany in July, Paris in September and Dublin in December. Murray said the company’s efforts have already been well received in the market, and he expects Hardy’s addition to bolster that feel.
“Avid MMA fans throughout Europe know the PFL, and it’s a trusted brand in terms of quality of our fighters, the production value, the innovative presentation and obviously our unique format,” Murray said. “We bring all those things and customize it to Europe, starting with having all European fighters competing in the league as well as an international and also European broadcast team, including Dan and others, and so it's really all about taking our global model—that premium brand, that innovative product—and a quality roster and activating our now established format, so that’s that’s how we’re doing it, with building great teams of professionals from broader sports, media and entertainment, as well as some of the best from MMA, to operate and execute to give it that credibility and validation
It’s a model the promotion plans to replicate around the globe as it targets regional organizations in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, South America and more. Saturday’s PFL Europe launch marks the official start of that global expansion as the organization looks to expand its global footprint.
“We’ll be building these regionally with the best professionals in the business and operating and production side, as well as, once again, the greatest minds from MMA—icons in the sport who have broader skills and interests to continue their careers beyond their fighting days,” Murray said. “It’s exciting, and I can’t tell you how many major, major former champions have reached out and said that they want to be part of the PFL’s global expansion in different parts of the world because they’re passionate about advancing and growing the sport and providing fighters opportunities, so we’ll be working with like minds.”