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UFC on ESPN+ 1: Greg Hardy aims to be the ‘great American heavyweight,’ win titles in MMA and boxing

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Greg Hardy will make his official Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) debut this Saturday night (Jan. 19, 2019) in the co-main event of UFC on ESPN+ 1 in Brooklyn N.Y., when he faces off against Allen Crowder in Heavyweight action. While more than a few eyebrows were raised after Hardy was given a prime slot for his UFC debut, it shouldn’t come as a total shock that UFC elected to have a former NFL player help usher in the “World Wide Leader in Sports” era.

But, Hardy says his road wasn’t exactly fast and easy despite some feeling his path to the Octagon has been quick.

“A lot of people forget to mention the three (amateur) fights I had,” Hardy said in an interview with MMA Junkie. “I had to travel the country and the circuit just like everyone else. It’s been a total of like six fights, grueling circuits, and just kind of playing my part and knowing my role. It’s helped me appreciate this sport, and I’m appreciative to be here so much more so than I would have.”

Hardy impressed UFC President Dana White enough to earn a contract during his stint on “Tuesday Night Contender Series,” but still went and took a couple fights on the regional circuit before hitting the big stage. Now that he’s here, Hardy plans on making the most of it ... and it won’t stop at just winning UFC’s 265-pound strap.

“Honestly, at this point we’re going to fight, we’re going to look for that UFC heavyweight belt. We’re going to go for the Zuffa Boxing title, the WBC (title). I want to be the great American heavyweight. I want to be the fighting heavyweight of the world. America needs one of those, and I can be that guy for them.”

Plenty of stigma still surrounds the former defensive end after he was involved in an ugly domestic violence case a few years back. And even though White may want everyone to just move on from it, Hardy knows it comes with the territory.

“Regardless of who you are and what you do, there’s going to be people that hate you,” Hardy said. “You’re going to have to deal with things. These are just my burdens and my downfalls. It’s what I have to deal with. It doesn’t bother me, and it’s something I want to face head-on.”

Rachael Ostovich — who will also fight on the card and is embroiled in a much-publicized alleged domestic violence case as we speak — has no qualms about sharing the spotlight alongside Hardy on the very same night. But, that doesn’t mean everyone is in agreement.

To see the most up-to-date UFC on ESPN+ 1: “Cejudo vs Dillashaw” fight card click here. And to subscribe to ESPN+ 1 click here.

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