In a sport known for its violence and aggression, Greg Hardy presents a unique set of challenges to the UFC. You see, Hardy has already had a career in an inherently aggressive sport, the NFL. He was drafted with the 175th pick in the 2010 NFL draft by the Carolina Panthers. The Ole Miss product played five years with the Panthers organization before legal trouble ultimately led to his release from the team.
The legal trouble? Domestic violence in which he was alleged to have grabbed, thrown, strangled, and threatened to kill his ex-girlfriend.
Before we dive into this domestic violence charge, let’s continue with his NFL career. Once released from the Panthers, the Dallas Cowboys took a chance on the second-team All-Pro, signing him to a one year deal. The season started fine, but Hardy was soon faced with serving a four-game suspension due to a violation of the NFL’s Code of Conduct policy after a Deadspin story was released containing photos of the injuries left on his ex-girlfriend. Despite that, he had a rather good year leading the Dallas defense in QB pressures and was second on the team in sacks. It was again the off-field issues that prevented the Cowboys from resigning Hardy. A myriad of reasons, both personal and professional, contributed to his release with some including,: frequent partying, inappropriate tweets, sleeping through team meetings, and being an overall bad influence on the younger players, to name just a few.
So once again, Hardy finds himself without a job, and because the story was published with pictures of his alleged victim’s injuries and his reputation for being unprofessional, no team wanted him. On September 26th, 2016, Hardy was arrested and charged with possession of controlled substance (cocaine).
So what does this have to do with MMA or the UFC? Well, unless you have been living under a rock (or have zero interest in MMA), you would know that Greg Hardy has appeared on the Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series twice, and subsequently received a UFC developmental contract after his first appearance In June, 2018, which resulted in a 0:57 second KO.
— Full Press MMA (@FPC_MMA) June 13, 2018
Hardy’s second professional bout was also on the Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series when he finished Tebaris Gordon in just 0:17 seconds.
— Sports Videos (@SportsVidsGIFs) August 8, 2018
The challenge that the UFC faces stands in the middle of Hardy’s talent, and Hardy’s history. So, let’s circle back to his 2014 domestic violence arrest.
Roughly a month after his arrest, Hardy was found guilty of assault and communicating threats and was sentenced to 18 months probation, suspending a 60-day jail sentence. There was an appeal, and when the victim failed to appear in court to testify, and with reliable information that a civil settlement had been made, the charges were dropped. On November 5th, 2015, the conviction was expunged from Hardy’s record, and the very next day the Deadspin story, with the photographs of the victim’s injuries, was released.
The UFC is not new to the scene of domestic violence or abuse. After a very notable incident in 2014 involving former UFC fighter, (and at the time current Bellator fighter) Jon Koppenhaver, AKA War Machine, other notable fighters were named that were still on the UFC’s roster including Anthony Johnson, Thiago Silva, and Travis Browne.
That was a report from 2015, what about today? Well, in just the last month, August 4th to be exact, Andrea “KGB” Lee was assaulted by her husband, while earlier in the year Nick Diaz was charged with two counts of domestic battery.
So why then, would the UFC be willing to bring in Greg Hardy? Any way you look at it, this is a PR nightmare. There is a lot of talk about “second chances” and how even someone like Hardy should get one. But didn’t he already? There is a group defending him saying that he is a changed man, and this is his redemption story. I haven’t seen anything resembling remorse, nor has a statement been made apologizing for his actions. To me, it seems he has just started over in a new profession, making his way back into the spotlight and, most likely, going to make a lot of money.
The signing of Greg Hardy seems less like a redemption story and far more like a money grab. I understand that the UFC is a business, and businesses need to make money. The UFC has been known to often schedule the fights that make money, and not always the fights that make sense. Again, I can understand what they are trying to do, but I won’t accept it. If they want to use his name to make money, then just say so. Don’t try to hide behind a façade of good intentions, helping Hardy to rise from his ashes like a phoenix. Just call it like it is and own it, a money grab.
In the title, I was deliberate in detailing this as an opinion piece, so please, feel free to disagree with me. I don’t think it makes you any less of a person, but just know that my stance will not change, much like I assume yours will not either. As I mentioned earlier, I understand it, but do not accept it. So, I will not be tuning in to any of Hardy’s fights. I don’t care if he wins, and I won’t tune in to “watch him lose” either.
Honestly, when I saw the highlight knockouts (impossible to not see them plastered all over Twitter), I felt worse for the victim in his case. Here is a grown man knocking out another incredibly strong grown man in less than a minute, and less than 20 seconds! What did she have to endure, and for how long? Domestic violence is not a joke, nor is it something that should be lauded as long as you have some athletic prowess and can be entertaining.
So with the culture changing in America, and the number of movements in protest of this type of behavior, it will be interesting to see how this signing will affect the UFC. While it can draw in large amounts of money on a per fight basis, it could become a political nightmare with a vast array of negative feedback and decreased viewership. Some fans may opt to not watch and look for a different promotion, and with the rise of companies like Bellator and Professional Fighters League, MMA fans won’t have to look far. Thus the conundrum of the curious case of Greg Hardy.