Greg Hardy, who once blamed asthma for inhaler DQ, joins Ferguson-Gaethje on UFC 249 card

We finally know the rest of the fighters scheduled to join Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje at UFC 249 on April 18, which is being held despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Among the fights filing out the UFC 249 card are Jessica Andrade vs. Rose Namajunas, Calvin Kattar vs. Jeremy Stephens, Ronaldo Souza vs. Uriah Hall, Vicente Luque vs. Niko Price and Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Francis Ngannou.

Ferguson to face Gaethje for interim lightweight belt

The main event between Ferguson and Gaethje will be for the interim lightweight championship, which lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov — currently trapped in Russia — has said he is fine with.

Ferguson’s previously scheduled title fight against Nurmagomedov will apparently now be pending a win over Gaethje. It is the fifth time a fight between Ferguson and Nurmagomedov has been called off.

All told, the rest of the card is looking pretty solid. A confirmed location, however, would be quite nice to have at some point. (Update 12:23 a.m. ET: UFC president Dana Hall has reportedly secured a private island to hold the event.)

One other scheduled fight, however, is bound to raise some eyebrows.

Greg Hardy fighting in UFC 249 despite asthma

Former NFL star Greg Hardy — who washed out of the league in the wake of disturbing domestic violence allegations and photographs — will face fellow heavyweight Yorgan de Castro.

Hardy’s past with domestic violence isn’t why it’s surprising to see him on such a high-profile card. The UFC has done plenty to show it wants him to play a prominent role in its future.

The reason why Hardy is a surprise addition to UFC 249 is that UFC president Dana White is trying to hold this event despite the spread of a deadly lung infection, and Hardy’s use of an inhaler for sports asthma is well known thanks to how his last win got taken away.

Greg Hardy sits during a break in a heavyweight mixed martial arts bout against Ben Sosoli, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019, at UFC Fight Night in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Greg Hardy could be facing extra risk at UFC 249 amid the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Hardy had a win against Ben Sosoli vacated in October 2019 because he visibly used an inhaler between rounds, which is typically forbidden in fights. Hardy defended himself by saying the inhaler was approved by a commission inspector, and said that he has asthma.

The World Health Organization and The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America both list asthma among the conditions that create increased risk with the coronavirus.

The UFC will likely exercise strict measures to ensure none of its fighters or staff are infected while trying to stage a rare sporting event, but Hardy’s addition is an indication of just how far White is willing to go to push UFC 249.

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