Tonight, former NFL defensive end Greg Hardy with compete on Dana Whites Tuesday Night Contender Series for a chance to earn a UFC contract. Its an opportunity that has drawn criticism due to Hardys personal history, having been functionally drummed out of the NFL due to domestic violence charges. Now, embarking on a new career - potentially in the UFC - Hardy has a message for fans who are concerned about his past: give me a chance to show you who I am.
Get to know me first, Hardy told reporters at a media scrum on Monday (video courtesy of MMAJunkie. Meet me would be a good start. Talk to me, and give me the opportunity that you would give anybody else. Look forward to watching me on TV. Come out and enjoy the event - whether its to see me get beat up or to see me excel - and then make a decision or make your opinion and Ill respect it as a human being. Thats honestly where I have to come from on any platform these days because thats the reality that I have to live in.
In 2014, Hardy was arrested for allegedly assaulting a former girlfriend and communicating threats against her life. He was convicted of domestic violence but after an appeal the charges were eventually expunged from his record; however, the damage to Hardys career was done. The former All-Pro was suspended 10 games for violating the NFLs conduct policy after an internal investigation concluded that Hardy had used physical force on four occasions with the victim. An arbiter reduced the suspension down to four games but Hardy was never able to regain the form he once had and remained unsigned after the 2015 NFL season. Hardy says that part of his life is over now though and he wants to move forward in MMA, and that means not shying away form his checkered past and accepting that some people will always judge him for it.
Im unafraid [to talk about it], Hardy said. I dont know if everybodys familiar with my history, but Ive never been afraid to talk, or be in the spotlight. This is what I do. This is who I am. I was born to compete, I was born to be here. I put in the work, I work harder than everybody else, and I try to just put my best foot forward and do it for my team and do it for everybody that helped me get here.
Honestly its just the burden that comes with it. Who am I to question fans? These are the people that pay my salary so they have the right to have opinions, they have the right to be who they are. Me being biased towards those people would be me being exactly who they think I am and honestly, thats not who I am. . .
Theres a whole lot of levels of understanding when you dont know a person, when you dont know any of the facts. But I do understand people do have their own opinions and if you dont respect peoples opinions, thats just Hitler-esque.
Hardy began competing in MMA in 2017, training at the renowned American Top Team gym. He has quickly amassed a 3-0 amateur record with a collective fight time of two minutes and twenty two seconds. Tonight will mark his professional debut and though he is likely getting this opportunity so early in his career because hes famous, he wants to prove to all the other fighters that he also deserves it, and thats an opportunity hes excited for.
Youve got to go through the steps and youve got to put in the work. In my former profession, thats how you gain respect. You take your steps, you dont skip through and try to go straight to the top, thats just disrespectful. I want to come in and I want to show the fighters and the institution that Im here to earn it and work my way up. Im not here to say my name is Greg Hardy and I deserve a shot, or Im not trying to CM Punk my way into the situation. I dont think I should be there because of my name. I want people to know that I should be there because theyve seen the fights, theyve seen the product and there is no guessing game. . .
I am here because Dana White is an angel, a saint that gave me the opportunity to come and put my best foot forward. I honestly couldnt begin to explain why, I can only just express my appreciation and my gratitude for the opportunity to be here and show what kind of athlete I am.
Hardy faces Austen Lane, also a former NFL defensive lineman, in the debut event of season two of Dana Whites Tuesday Night Contender Series tonight on FightPass.
DC on Conan. Never thought about it but Conan really is cursed.