UFC heavyweight prospect Greg Hardy has been a controversial figure dating all the way back to his days in the NFL as a defensive end. That hasn’t changed now that he’s in the world of MMA.
A naturally heavy hitter from playing American football, that has transitioned over nicely for the 30-year-old as he has finished all seven of his career wins by knockout/TKO (four as a pro, three as an amateur).
The majority of the controversy surrounding Hardy comes from the fact that he’s an inexperienced fighter getting special treatment accompanied by his checkered past. As in 2014, convicted on domestic violence charges from Hardy’s ex-girlfriend, he appealed leading to the case being dropped as his former partner didn’t show up to testify on the court date.
The victim stated that Hardy had thrown her into the bathroom putting his hands on her throat threatening to kill her. These accusations were denied by Hardy.
Hardy’s now boxing coach at American Top Team in South Florida, Billy Padden, was a probation officer for 10 years as well as a court investigator for the same amount of time in Philadelphia.
“I watch Greg Hardy hit grown men and make them limp as a noodle in seconds,” Padden told Bloody Elbow. “If he had any malice the night of this alleged incident, the woman would be dead. [I’m] used to giving people second chances, everybody deserves a second chance.
“The Greg Hardy I know is one of the best living guys I’ve met down here. Every time I’m walking him to the ring, I hear, ‘You woman beater,’ I hear nasty things said to him. I don’t think he deserves it.”
Hardy fought in his second UFC fight as well as second UFC co-main event this past Saturday at UFC Fort Lauderdale when he took on and defeated Dmitrii Smoliakov via first-round TKO.
The Millington, Tennessee native made his UFC debut in January when he fought Allen Crowder at UFC Brooklyn. A fight that saw more controversy added to his name as he would lose by disqualification in the second round after hitting Crowder with an illegal knee.
“We all knew Greg was better than what he showed when he fought Allen Crowder,” Padden said. “The UFC got to him. I could tell he was acting different when he was in the cage.
“We had a nice talk after he came back from that, and I said, ‘Listen, the weigh-in doesn’t matter, the pre-fight staredown doesn’t matter, the sh*t talking doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is when that buzzer sounds.’
“We tried to slow this thing down. We didn’t want this to happen,” Padden continued in reference to Hardy’s co-main event placements. “He doesn’t want to be the co-main event. It takes guys 10 years to get to this level, to the UFC. He knows this happened quickly; we know this happened quickly.
“Management teams are not always on the same page as the trainers. The management people felt he was ready; we have to respect their decision. Greg felt he was ready. I’m gonna train him to the best of my ability no matter who they put in front of him.”
What’s next for ‘The Prince of War’ remains to be determined. But Padden would go onto say that he believes there is no ceiling on the potential of the former Carolina Panther and Dallas Cowboy in MMA.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 4/30/2019