UFC president Dana White told ESPN on Wednesday that former NFL defensive end Greg Hardy will be making his official UFC debut in January. But he’s not making his debut on just any old card — Hardy will fight on Jan. 19, the first live UFC event ever broadcast on ESPN+.
Hardy has six fights under his belt — three amateur, three pro — and all ended in first-round knockout victories for Hardy. He made his pro debut in June 2018, and signed a developmental deal with the UFC immediately after. In January he’ll fight Allen Crowder, who is 9-3 and hasn’t fought since December 2017 due to injuries.
Signing Hardy was controversial for White. While he was playing for the Carolina Panthers in 2014, Hardy was convicted on two counts of domestic violence after being arrested for assaulting his ex-girlfriend. He was sentenced to probation and suspended jail time, but he appealed the decision. The charges were dropped when his ex-girlfriend failed to appear to testify in front of a jury, and the entire incident was eventually expunged from his record. Police photos of the incident — and of his ex-girlfriend’s injuries — were eventually released by Deadspin.
Greg Hardy will share a card with Rachael Ostovich
The controversy with Hardy doesn’t stop with his previous domestic violence issues. With his debut fight now scheduled for UFC’s debut on ESPN+, he’ll be sharing a card with Rachael Ostovich, who is fighting Paige VanZant in a women’s flyweight bout. Ostovich recently had her orbital bone broken in an alleged attack by her husband. The injury sent her to the hospital and put her fight against VanZant in doubt. Ostovich’s husband, Arnold Berdon, has been charged with second degree assault and the case is still under investigation.
It’s extraordinarily bad optics, not to mention hugely insensitive, to put Hardy — a man who has a serious domestic violence accusation (and expunged conviction) in his past — on the same card with Ostovich. And it didn’t have to be this way. According to ESPN, Hardy was originally scheduled fight in a regional show in Florida on Dec. 21. But the UFC decided to seal the deal on his quick call-up and pull him from that event so he could make his big debut.
Putting Hardy on the same card as Ostovich will certainly bring the event more publicity — but it won’t be the good kind.
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