Heavyweight prospect and former NFL star Greg Hardy (3-0) has his official UFC debut close to set.
According to Brett Okamoto of ESPN, Dana White has said that the UFC is close to finalizing a fight between Hardy and Allen Crowder (9-3) for their first ESPN+ card that is scheduled to take place on January 19 in Brooklyn, New York.
Hardy was supposed to be making his fourth appearance in MMA at Island Fights 51 on December 21, but that has obviously now been canceled.
Breaking: Per Dana White, UFC is close to finalizing Greg Hardy’s UFC debut against heavyweight Allen Crowder on Jan. 19 in Brooklyn. pic.twitter.com/bepjPf1hQX
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) December 5, 2018
Breaking: Per Dana White, UFC is close to finalizing Greg Hardy’s UFC debut against heavyweight Allen Crowder on Jan. 19 in Brooklyn.
This will be Hardy’s first official fight for the UFC after he made two appearances on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series this past summer. In his two fights on the Contender Series, Hardy finished both fights with first-round knockouts that both happened in under a minute.
After not receiving an official UFC contract following his two wins on Contender Series, Hardy would go on to have a third professional fight where he once again had a first-round knockout that came in less than a minute.
After his first win, White announced that Hardy would be signed under a developmental contract which is why he fought twice more after his first Contender Series bout.
As for Hardy’s opponent in Crowder, he is also a Contender Series alum where he also secured a victory. Crowder defeated Don’Tale Mayes during the first season of Contender Series and went on to make his official UFC debut at UFC 218. Crowder would suffer a first-round loss to Justin Willis and will make his second UFC appearance against Hardy.
While Hardy has his UFC debut scheduled, it doesn’t come without controversy. The former NFL player was found guilty on two charges of domestic violence against his ex-girlfriend. Hardy’s charges were later dropped when the accuser did not appear in court to testify against him. As he came into the UFC through Contender Series, the UFC and Dana White received criticism for giving Hardy a platform to succeed while he was pushed out of the NFL due to his domestic violence case.
The more unfortunate circumstance surrounding Hardy’s debut fight is that it falls on the same card where Rachael Ostovich will face Paige VanZant as both women have made it known they are taking a stand against domestic violence.
Ostovich has recently been in the news after suffering a broken orbital bone caused by her husband in a domestic violence incident that nearly withdrew her from the fight. After receiving doctor’s clearance to remain on the card, Ostovich said that she wanted to stay in the fight so that she could make a stand against domestic violence and her opponent VanZant publicly supported her.
The UFC’s first fight card on the ESPN networks will air on ESPN+ live on January 19 from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 12/4/2018