The special treatment for disgraced former NFL player Greg Hardy continues.
Many members of the MMA media and martial arts scene in general have been unhappy with Dana White’s decision to sign Hardy to the UFC, due to his controversial past which includes an extremely disturbing incident of domestic violence. That unhappiness grew when it was announced that Hardy would make his debut January 19th on the first UFC show broadcast on ESPN and ESPN+. And we imagine some will be even less impressed to learn Hardy’s fight has now been slotted in the co-main event spot, just under the champion vs. champion fight between TJ Dillashaw and Henry Cejudo.
It’s a somewhat surprising move considering the amount of pushback the UFC has received on the fighter. Leading up to UFC 231, the promotion attempted to block questions from reporters about Hardy, and Dana White flat out told media during a scrum that he was done talking about it before abruptly storming off.
”I’m not going to talk about Greg Hardy any more,” White said. “I already covered this. I’m not playing this bulls**t with you guys. He’s on the UFC roster. Period. End of story.”
Placing the 3-0 Hardy so high up the card is the UFC making it very clear that they’re all in, and done listening to moralizing about his past. Someone obviously thinks the former Dallas Cowboys defensive end could turn into a real star for the organization, and they’re providing Sage Northcutt levels of favorable treatment to make Greg Hardy happen.
The UFC fast tracked him into the league via Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, then signed him to a rare development deal where they got him a fight in the minor leagues. Now his fight sits right in the spotlight under the main event on a historic card. If he beats Allen Crowder (9-3 MMA 0-1 UFC) on January 19th, you better believe the Hardy hype train will be full steam ahead.
The big question: can the UFC turn this already tainted tale into one of redemption or will it produce a dark cloud over every event Hardy participates in, making your average Jon Jones fiasco or Colby Covington interaction seem quaint by comparison?
Here’s the full card:
Main Card (ESPN+, 10 PM ET)
Henry Cejudo vs. T.J. Dillashaw
Allen Crowder vs. Greg Hardy
Gregor Gillespie vs. Yancy Medeiros
Joseph Benavidez vs. Dustin Ortiz
Rachael Ostovich vs. Paige VanZant
Ion Cutelaba vs. Glover Teixeira
Preliminary Card (ESPN TV, 8 PM ET)
Donald Cerrone vs. Alexander Hernandez
Joanne Calderwood vs. Ariane Lipski
Alonzo Menifield vs. Vinicius Moreira
John Lineker vs. Cory Sandhagen
Preliminary Card (ESPN+, 6:30 PM ET)
Randy Brown vs. Chance Rencountre
Belal Muhammad vs. Geoff Neal
Dennis Bermudez vs. Te Edwards