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Why Signing Former NFL Star Greg Hardy Would Be A Massive Step Backwards For UFC

Gavan Casey
By Gavan Casey
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When you consider the role it has played in the promotion of women's sport across the globe, it seems unfathomable that the UFC would even entertain the thought of signing excommunicated NFL star Greg Hardy to its roster.

On Wednesday, the organisation's president Dana White announced the long-awaited turn of 'Rowdy' Ronda Rousey - the original trailblazer for female mixed martial artists - to feverish anticipation. She opens as a 1/2 favourite over bantamweight champion Amanda Nunez of Brazil, having broken a plethora of records while dominating her division and the sport for 18 months before coming unstuck versus former boxing world champion Holly Holm.

Holm herself has spoken in the past as to how the lack of exposure in professional women's boxing brings shame to the sweet science; this following her earth-shattering upset of Rousey at UFC 193 - the headline fight in front of over 56,000 frenzied Aussie fans, in a pay-per-view event which topped one million buys.

The truth, of course, is that the UFC didn't have social justice or equal opportunities in mind when it began to promote women's fights as fervently as it had men's; Dana White simply had the foresight to recognise that, in the right circumstances, standout female talents could generate as much hype and revenue - if not more - than their male counterparts. Simply put, he didn't discriminate. Rousey ticked the boxes, and the UFC cashed the cheques. Good for women's sport. Good for business.

But while White and the UFC deserve credit for at least acknowledging the ability and subsequent marketability of their female stars, any move to sign former NFL defensive end Greg Hardy to the organisation's roster would erode whatever residual credibility they may retain within the context of gender equality.

It's hardly surprising that Hardy's physical abuse of his partner, Nicole Holder, or the subsequent legal battle did not see the 28-year-old ostracised from the NFL. No - consistent tardiness and a few shitty tweets would finally put pay to Hardy's football career as he was axed by the Dallas Cowboys in 2015. Since then, and only since then, no franchise has gone near the 2013 Pro Bowl defensive end.

Three weeks ago - over a year removed from football - Hardy was arrested in possession of cocaine. An eyebrow-raisingly short period of time later, he announced he would be embarking on a career in MMA. The reaction was at best mixed.


"I'm one of those guys too who believes that we're all human beings and we all make mistakes," was Dana White's response when asked if he'd consider signing Hardy to the UFC's roster.

And when you make a mistake, you pay your penance, whatever it might be, and you should be allowed to make a living and move on in your life. Is he good enough to come into the UFC and fight? I highly doubt it.

I've been playing football for a couple weeks too, maybe I'll try out for the Patriots? It takes a little bit longer than that, but he could fight at one of these small shows. We'll see how he looks, and I don't know.

He's right, of course. We do all make mistakes. But not all of us stand at 6-foot-4 and tip the scales at 265 pounds. Not all of us fling our partners from a bed, throw them in a bathtub, drag them out and throw them on a futon covered with at least four semiautomatic weapons and three other guns.

Not all of us slam the toilet seat on their arm as they try to retrieve the necklace we've ripped off their neck. Not all of us drag a loved one from room to room, shove them into a wall and apply so much pressure to their neck that it leaves visible marks.

Not all of us have physically and emotionally terrorised another human being to the point that they would later tell police:


He looked me in my eyes and he told me he was going to kill me. I was so scared I wanted to die.

In July 2014, Greg Hardy was found guilty of assaulting Holder and threatening to kill her. He appealed the judge’s ruling and asked for a jury trial. The following February, prosecutors in North Carolina announced that charges would be dropped when Holder, who was paid a settlement by Hardy, could not be found.

Is Hardy now within his rights to earn a living? Absolutely. But that doesn't mean there's a moral or social obligation to hire him, or to even entertain the very notion. The burden is on Hardy to find work - not on potential employers to find him. The difference, of course, is that White understands the potential benefit in Hardy's recruitment. Not to compare CM Punk to Hardy, by any means, but the former wrestler is walking (or now limping) proof that there is money to be made from side-shows in MMA.


And while the UFC president may have laughed off the notion having not yet seen Hardy throw down, or even step inside an octagon, the door remains conspicuously ajar. Just in case.

But if we do eventually see Hardy fight under the UFC banner, White will have left a glaring dent in the progressive business model he has constructed. More pertinently, his organisation, which faces a perpetual battle to shake its 'thuggish' reputation in general society, will face more public scrutiny than ever before.

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