Ex-NFL DE Greg Hardy Signs UFC Deal After Quick Knockout In Pro MMA Debut
Former NFL star Greg Hardy may have had a rough start to his professional mixed martial arts career, but he is determined to become a UFC fighter.
Hardy, a 29-year-old former defensive end for the Carolina Panthers and Dallas Cowboys, got a UFC contract on Tuesday, the same day he knocked out Austen Lane — another former NFL player — in only 57 seconds in a heavyweight matchup at Dana White Tuesday Night Contender Series.
“It’s awesome news,” Hardy told ESPN of his new deal. “I get an opportunity to show what I’ve got, go back and work hard and come back even better than before. It’s exciting. It’s everything I could ask for.”
He continued: “I just want to get back in the ring. Whatever show it is, I just want another opportunity to fight. Man, I’m having the time of my life and really enjoying it.”
Hardy left the NFL in 2015 and began his attempt at an MMA career the next year. He won his first three rookie fights by knockouts, all of which came in the first round. Hardy’s NFL career was damaged after he was charged with domestic violence and faced other conduct problems.
Another UFC star, Nick Diaz, was recently arrested for domestic violence and the company issued a statement in May about the controversy saying it “does not tolerate domestic violence and requires all athletes to adhere to the UFC Fighter Conduct Policy.”
During a press conference after UFC 225 on Saturday, White claimed Hardy has struggled with substance abuse but went on to praise the former NFL player.
“I guess he had a real bad drug and alcohol problem. Started getting into MMA, cleaned himself up,” White said of Hardy. “If you talk to anybody he trains with, male or female, they say that he’s a very good guy, he’s very humble. Everybody deserves a second chance,” the UFC president added. “And the guy was never charged with anything, he was never sentenced or anything like that. So, we’re going to give him a shot.”
According to The Washington Post, Hardy denied assaulting his ex-girlfriend, and alleged she injured herself by jumping into a bathtub at his apartment. A judge sentenced Hardy in 2014 to 18 months’ probation for assault and for making threats to kill the woman. The incident reportedly came after a night of heavy drinking. The charges against Hardy were later dropped.
On Tuesday, the UFC also announced the signing of light heavyweight Alonzo Menifield, who like Hardy secured a first-round knockout victory on Tuesday.