On the Fox Sports program “Jason Whitlock 1-on-1,” UFC President Dana White said this week he is open to considering ex-NFL player Greg Hardy for a UFC fight. Hardy, who was convicted of beating his girlfriend and threatening to kill her in 2014 (the case was thrown out when, on appeal, the accuser stopped cooperating with authorities), has expressed interest in fighting in MMA.
“I’m one of those guys who believe we’re all human beings and we all make mistakes,” White said. “When you make a mistake, you pay your penance and you should allowed to make a living and move on in your life. Is he good enough to come into the UFC and fight? I highly doubt it. He should train. … I’m not saying he should be welcomed here. I’m a guy who says if you make a mistake, your life isn’t over – go kill yourself or something. You made a mistake, you pay for it. When you make mistake, it’s how do you handle yourself after that and what do you do to fix that?”
Jay Glazer has spoken out against this in comments on Twitter this week. “I would be incredibly disappointed in any of my fellow MMA coaches and any promoters if they took Greg Hardy in and taught him a shred of our incredible sport,” he said on Twitter. “Many of us train women in self defense specifically to help protect versus domestic violence. Me and all my coaches at Unbreakable do and take great pride in that. Competing in any sport is a privilege, Greg Hardy should not be granted the privilege. There are many beautiful arts taught in our sport, none of which should be afforded to him.”
White said Hardy’s first MMA fight shouldn’t be in UFC just because of his name value and sports background. “He can fight on these small shows, we’ll see how he looks, and I don’t know.”
When Whitlock pointed out that Hardy says he’s been training for a few months, White laughed and said. “Well, I’ve been playing football for a couple weeks, maybe I’ll go try out for the Patriots.”
If Hardy is looking for a trainer, Kenny Johnson – who has trained Jose Aldo, Anderson Silva, and B.J. Penn, told TMZ this week that he’s train him. “I would not judge the past of a man if he’s trying to better his present,” he said. “With him wanting to make the transition over to MMA … hey man, Black House, we’re open. Call me … we’ll train.”
Former Middleweight Champion Luke Rockhold, like Glazier, is firmly against anyone training Hardy. “If anyone’s familiar with his situation and what he did, it’s beyond anything of what a normal human is capable of,” he told TMZ. “If you looked into the situation, you’d know what he did. It’s so out there. It’s crazy to think that someone would actually train this guy and teach him and give him another career in the MMA world. You don’t help someone who is that far lost… It’s disgusting.”
Keller’s Analysis: When White says Hardy needs to prove himself elsewhere first, I can’t help but think there’s a double-standard considering C.M. Punk leaped from WWE to UFC without fighting in the minor leagues or the regional circuit first, and Punk’s background was in performance combat, not actual sports competition. Hardy is considered an elite athlete. Now, by saying there’s a double-standard, I’m not saying I’m in favor of Hardy getting any consideration to cash in on his public recognition that came from being convicted of beating his girlfriend; what I’m saying is perhaps this is a sign that White is trying to find an “out” so he doesn’t have to actually make the call to sign him to fight or rule him out. He’s kicking the can down the road, so to speak, by saying let’s see how serious he is and if he can actually fight, then we’ll talk about whether his reputation merits or disqualifies him for a high-profile big payday from UFC. I also wonder if Punk’s performance has caused White to reevaluate “celebrity novelty fights.”