Accused domestic abuser Greg Hardy and Rachael Ostovich, who was recently a victim of domestic violence, will be competing on the same UFC Fight Night card in Brooklyn on Jan. 19 but the decision wasn’t made in a vacuum.
That’s according to UFC president Dana White, who says he spoke to Ostovich before booking Hardy on the same card to ensure she was comfortable with the decision.
Ostovich was just hospitalized for a broken orbital bone after her husband allegedly assaulted her at their home in Hawaii. While she was originally pulled from the card due to injury, Ostovich insisted on competing and she will now faced Paige VanZant on the first ever card set to air on ESPN and ESPN+.
The UFC then announced Hardy would make his promotional debut that same night in a heavyweight fight against Allen Crowder. Hardy was previously convicted of domestic abuse but the charge was eventually expunged from his record after the victim failed to testify against him during a jury trial.
“First of all, I called Rachael Ostovich and talked to her and walked her through this situation,” White said when speaking to TSN in Canada on Thursday. “Her take on it was ‘his story isn’t my story, everybody’s story is different and I believe in second chances, I have no problem fighting on the same card as this guy’. He didn’t do anything to Rachael Ostovich.
“She was totally cool with it. So obviously having her support was a key factor in making that decision.”
White added that Ostovich was the one who convinced him to let her back on the card in the first place after she suffered injuries as a result of her assault. White says that the former ‘Ultimate Fighter’ candidate made an impassioned plea about why she should still be allowed to fight and he ultimately agreed with her.
“Rachael was off the card because of what happened. First of all, I wasn’t letting her fight after what had just happened to her. There’s no way she can fight right now, she needs to take some time. She called me, gave me 75 reasons why she needs to be on this card and I agreed with her. So we did it,” White said.
As far as Hardy’s violent past, White said that it’s going to follow the former NFL player no matter where he goes or what he does.
“He’s going to be tied to that for the rest of his career, for the rest of his life,” White said. “This is a guy who has spent the last five years rehabilitating himself from drugs, alcohol, anger management, you name it, rebuilding his life. He hit rock bottom, he lost his job. He’s building a family now. He has a son and a daughter and he’s trying to put that behind him.”
As soon as the announcement was made that Hardy would be on the same card as Ostovich, the UFC was slammed with feedback from fans and media alike saying the decision was at best tone deaf considering what the women’s flyweight just endured a couple of weeks ago.
Still, White backs up his decision because he cleared it with Ostovich, who gave her blessing to have Hardy on the same card as her.
“If you want to make it an issue, you can make it an issue,” White said. “Everyone can make it an issue if they want to. Rachael Ostovich doesn’t have an issue with it and that’s all that matters to me.”