Is it time that we lay off on domestic abuser Greg Hardy a bit? Sort of.
But that doesn’t mean the crimes he committed should be ignored. In fact, they should continue to be highlighted every time Hardy fights or enters the news cycle. The only thing that should change is where the anger should be directed.
Hardy acts like he’s trying to improve himself, and to his credit, there have been no domestic assault accusations made against him since the one that saw him leave the NFL for MMA. It’s a low bar, but it’s to his credit nonetheless.
Any vitriol and criticism towards Greg Hardy being employed by the Ultimate Fighting Championship should be directed towards UFC and their business and broadcast partner ESPN.
As Jeremy Botter pointed out in his (highly recommended) Whizzered email newsletter, UFC president Dana White actually took a hardline stance against domestic abuse several years ago. To be specific, White said, “You don’t bounce back from putting your hands on a woman.” Not only has UFC allowed Hardy to bounce back, but they’ve handed him a trampoline.
Giving Hardy that bounce is ESPN. Hardy has been placed prominently on both of his first two UFC fights. He was a key part of UFC’s very important debut on ESPN+ fighting Allen Crowder second from the top. The show was promoted as hard as a pay-per-view event and Hardy was part of that promotion. The obvious tone-deaf call to place him on the same card as recent domestic abuse survivor Rachael Ostovich seemed inconsequential to UFC and ESPN.
Saturday night, Hardy will get his biggest platform yet, a main card spot on ESPN’s mainline cable network. He’s fighting Juan Adams, a guy who doesn’t like him, but also a guy he might be able to beat.
UFC and ESPN are so deeply in bed with each other that any decision one entity makes reflects on the other. ESPN may be using Hardy for his NFL celebrity to try and bring in the mainstream sports audience. UFC, likewise, just doesn’t care because ESPN is giving them so much money, it’s worth it to walk back your moral stance.
UFC and ESPN can and should do better for victims of domestic violence. If you’re mad about Greg Hardy being in UFC, take it out on the promotion and their partner.
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