Dan Hardy’s long-awaited and eagerly anticipated return to fighting appears to be closer than ever.

‘The Outlaw’ hasn’t fought since beating Amir Sadollah by decision in 2012. Soon after Hardy was diagnosed with a heart condition known as Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome which appeared to bring a premature end to his fight career.

Hardy is now able to fight again and has been talking up a return to the Octagon for some time now. Unfortunately, the Englishman’s relationship with the UFC recently went south, leading to his firing from broadcast duties and ultimately his release from the promotion entirely.

The 39-year-old now appears to be on the verge of booking a fight against John Wayne Parr under the ONE Championship banner.

In an interview with Asian MMA, Hardy was already looking ahead to who could be next after he fights Parr.

“On the back of that (fight) I’d be walking around at about 175lb which opens up a lot of options,” Hardy said. “There are a lot of interesting fights in that region. From MMA to kickboxing to Muay Thai to boxing.”

Hardy likes the idea of fighting the former UFC and Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez who is currently competing in ONE Championship’s 170lb division.

“I think Eddie (Alvarez) is a good pick. I’ve got a lot of respect for Eddie and for his team. And it would be a fight that would interest the fans,” Hardy said. “I think ONE would like it because it would engage the western audience a bit more where they’re more familiar with the likes of Eddie Alvarez. He’s a former multiple time world champion, he’s the king of the underground. It would be a hell of a fight!”

“The other one that springs out it Shinya Aoki,” Hardy added. He’s a whole other kind of puzzle to solve. I watched a couple of his recent fights and he’s just as slick as he was 5-10 years ago but he’s not nearly as reckless anymore. He’s so much more measured now. That (Aoki) would be an entirely different training camp. I’d have to bring in specialists for that, I’d have to travel a bit more for that. So as I’m going up the levels, that would be another fight on the list.” (Transcribed by BJPENN.com)

Who do you want to see Dan Hardy fight?

A lifelong fight fan from Liverpool, England who has been covering mixed martial arts (MMA) and boxing for several years. Follow @JordanEllisUK on Twitter for all the latest fight news, views, interviews and live event coverage.