Sometimes the UFC offers very differing viewpoints when it comes to the conduct of fighters, or potential fighters, outside of the cage. One of the things that the promotion has tried to target is domestic violence, cutting fighters that have been accused of it or having found out about a past history of domestic abuse.
However, they’ve been very uneven in that regard – while guys like Will Chope were axed right away, fighters like Abel Trujillo are still on the roster. And higher-profile fighters like Nick Diaz are being investigated about alleged DV incidents before the UFC decides to pull the trigger.
So when it became known that the UFC was going into the Greg Hardy business, many red flags popped up.
If you don’t know anything about Hardy, here’s a brief bio:
Originally drafted by the Carolina Panthers, Hardy made the Pro Bowl in 2013 and was second-team All-Pro due to his impressive ability to rush after and sack the quarterback. In 2014, Hardy was arrested on domestic violence charges against his ex-girlfriend, and was later found guilty of assaulting a female and making communicating threats. Both offenses were misdemeanors, and he was given a suspended 60-day jail sentence, plus 18 months probation.
Hardy missed almost all of the 2014 season and a handful of games in 2015, as the highly-publicized case went to an appeal. Ultimately, the charges were dismissed and expunged from his record, as the victim failed to appear in court for a jury trial. Disturbing and graphic details from Hardy’s accuser, Nicole Holder, can be read in this TIME magazine piece, while Deadspin published photos of Holder’s injuries.
After going 3-0 as an amateur, the UFC made the decision to bring him in to fight on the Contender Series against another ex-NFL player Austen Lane. A curious turn of events. So at the UFC 225 press conference, UFC president Dana White was asked about it. And he offered up this whopper:
“I guess he had a real bad drug and alcohol problem. Started to get into MMA. Cleaned himself up. 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. And the guy was never charged with anything, he was never sentenced or anything like that. We’re going to give him a shot.”
There’s an obvious, glaring problem there. He WAS charged with something. He WAS sentenced. The charges were then dismissed and expunged on appeal because the victim stopped appearing.
Here’s what Dana White said in the wake of the Ray Rice scandal in 2014, when he was also dealing with a UFC fighter, Anthony Johnson, who had been accused of domestic violence at the time:
“Obviously the (Rice) video, and what happened was horrifying but I think a lot of positives are happening now. It’s brought a lot of attention and awareness and I think from here on out it should all be positive. We always were proactive. Since we started ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ we’ve done full background checks on all the guys coming in. If they ever had anything, any violence against women, they didn’t get on. We’ve been all over [the Anthony Johnson case] and when you move as fast as we move, and the things we’ve been doing, it’s hard to police thousands of guys and know what exactly is going on but as soon as we’ve found information on guys, we’ve acted. Of course, the way we always react is morally first then the business second.”
All of the information on Greg Hardy was public record. In fact, it was a major news story. Yet the promotion is going the “second chance” this route this time. Essentially putting the business first and morality second.
Talk about a mixed message.