UFC 286: Juliana Miller Has No Answer for Returning Veronica Hardy

Juliana Miller and Veronica Hardy, UFC 286
Juliana Miller and Veronica Hardy, UFC 286 ceremonial weigh-in Credit: Jamie Theodosi/Cageside Press

The Ultimate Fighter 30 flyweight winner Juliana Miller returned to action at UFC 286, taking her first non-TUF fight in the UFC against Veronica Hardy.

For those unaware, Hardy (nee Macedo) is the wife of former UFC title challenger Dan “The Outlaw” Hardy. The Venezuelan talent had not fought since a 2020 loss to Bea Malecki; at 1-4 in the UFC, the former bantamweight was no doubt hoping that time off to hone her skills and a drop back to flyweight could help her fortunes in the promotion.

Hardy and Miller got right to work in the card-opening bout at UFC 286, and it was Miller planted on her backside for just a moment in the opening minute— though it was at least partially a slip. Miller was quickly back up, firing kicks and working her jab as Hardy circled outside. When Miller closed the distance, Hardy clinched, landing several shots to the face.

The stand-up battle was not going well for Juliana Miller, and she wisely looked to change things up in the final two minutes of the round, putting Hardy on the fence while working for a takedown. Miller wound up pulling Hardy on top of her, though what looked like a bad spot for the TUF winner actually allowed Miller to pursue a triangle and arm-bar. She could finish neither attempt, however, and Hardy landed a bit of ground n’ pound before standing back up just ahead of the horn.

The second round again saw Miller pushing forward with Hardy on the outside, but it was Hardy doing damage every time the American came in. Miller again opted to pursue a takedown and once again wound up pulling Hardy on top of her. Hardy wound up in mount, but Miller was able to lock up an arm bar. This attempt was a little closer, but Miller was forced to switch sides as Hardy tried to roll free; that led to Miller releasing the hold to block punches rained down by the Venezuelan.

Another arm-bar attempt by Miller followed, but again she didn’t have it, though she would get Hardy back to half-guard. Hardy, however, hit home with a smashing elbow, and soon a lump had formed on Juliana Miller’s forehead. More ground n’ pound followed from Hardy until they stood back up in the final minute. When Miller tried to force another takedown, it was again Hardy ending up in a dominant position, though Miller finished the round with a kimura attempt.

Through two rounds, Miller appeared sluggish, with Hardy well ahead on the feet, and earning plenty of top time on the ground even with Miller active off her back. In the third, it was Hardy landing a takedown with a trip, though Miller again went after a kimura in an ultimately futile submission attempt. An arm-bar saw Miller transition to a kneebar attempt, though Hardy began ripping the body, which forced Miller to change position.

From there the flyweight pair moved back to the feet, trading knees and reversing along the cage before Hardy took the fight back down. In a familiar scene, Miller again went after an armbar but didn’t have it. Back up, back down, rinse, repeat, but Miller had no answer for Veronica Hardy on the feet, and simply couldn’t catch a submission on the mat. In the final minute, Miller ate a heavy shot on the feet, following which Veronica Hardy took the fight down one last time.

Official Result: Veronica Hardy def. Juliana Miller by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)