UFC 249 will take place Saturday night in Jacksonville. One of the biggest and most controversial names on the card is former Dallas Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy. Saturday night will be Hardy's first appearance on the pay-per-view section of a UFC event.
For those who don't remember, Hardy is an incredibly controversial figure. Back in May of 2014, he was arrested for assaulting an ex-girlfriend. The details of the case are wild and terrifying but he wound up being cleared of charges on appeal solely because the victim refused to testify. We later found out she didn't tell her story because the two sides had reached a civil settlement. Basically he paid her to not speak up.
In November of 2015, Hardy officially had the domestic violence charges expunged from his record. The next day, Deadspin released police photographs of his ex-girlfriends injuries. In 2016, Hardy was also arrested for cocaine possession.
Due to his off-field troubles the former Pro Bowler was essentially run out of the NFL. No one wanted to sign him, so he turned to mixed martial arts, fighting as a heavyweight. From November 2017 through February 2018 he fought three amateur MMA bouts and won each via knockout. That landed him two fights on Dana White's Contender Series. In both bouts he finished his opponent with a first-round knockout. After the first fight, against Austen Lane, White handed Hardy a UFC contract.
Since joining the UFC, Hardy is 2-2 with one no-contest. But one of his losses came because he used an illegal knee, and the no-contest came after he won a unanimous decision but used an illegal asthma inhaler between rounds. The result of that bout was nullified. His only true loss came in November when Alexander Volkov dominated him in a decision win.
On Saturday night, Hardy (5-2) will step into the cage against Yorgan de Castro (6-0) on one of the most-anticipated cards in UFC history. Plenty will be wondering if Hardy deserves that kind of spotlight. This is a guy who has allegedly done some terrible things and there is plenty of photo evidence to back up those claims.
White was roundly criticized for giving Hardy a contract and, frankly, that's understandable. The UFC president has never been one to care about public outcry and he clearly sees Hardy as a commodity. Plenty of people will tune in to watch Hardy hoping he gets crushed. On the other hand, Hardy is a physical specimen, so if he winds up being a successful knockout artist, that's also good for White as well.