Former NFL star Greg Hardy set to make professional MMA debut on Dana White Contender Series

One of the sports newest and most controversial free agents will be looking to make their mark on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series.

MMAFighting confirmed Saturday that former National Football League star Greg Hardy is now slated to compete on the Contender Series’s June 12th episode, later this summer.

Well-statured at 6 foot, 5 inches tall and weighing in at 280 pounds, Hardy is an athletic specimen that has made the cut to 265 three times at the amateur level. Hardy has knocked out all three of his opponents thus far in a stunning span of just 142 seconds. Most recently, Hardy competed for the Legacy Fighting Alliance, finishing 3-1 amateur Ryan Chester in just 14 seconds.

Hardy gained notoriety through his on-field talent and off-the-field issues. The former Carolina Panthers and Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker competed six seasons in the NFL, earning one pro-bowl appearance. Hardy also holds the Carolina Panthers record for most sacks in a season.

Controversy arose in 2014,  when Hardy was arrested for assault after he was alleged to have assaulted an ex-girlfriend by grabbing her, throwing her into furniture, strangling her, and inciting forcible death threats.  He was found guilty and sentenced to 18 months probation, suspending a 60-day jail sentence. When Hardy appealed the decision, requesting a jury trial, the victim failed to appear in court to testify. As a result, the prosecutor’s office dropped the charges, citing their inability to locate the victim, and “reliable information” that the two parties had reached a civil settlement.

Following the court proceedings from that Summer, Hardy was “deactivated” (temporarily suspend from playing) from game play. He was then suspended by the league for 10 games and never played for the Carolina Panthers again.

UFC President Dana White has always been open to the idea of signing Hardy. White told Fox Sports 1 in 2016:

“I’m not saying he should be welcomed here. I’m saying, I’m a guy who believes that if you make a mistake, your life isn’t over forever. When you make mistakes, it’s about how you act from there on out.”

For a professional debut opponent, Hardy will not be given an easy road to the Octagon lights. Hardy’s expected opponent is United States Army veteran Brandon Sayles who holds a professional record of 5-1, giving him a heavy experience advantage.

Just like every other pair of fighters matched up on the “Contender Series,” Hardy and Sayles will be given the chance to earn a UFC contract. Sitting cage-side will be White and UFC matchmakers: Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard. A win, however, does not guarantee Hardy or Sayles a UFC shot. The most impressive performers on each card will be signed at the discretion of the UFC brass as was the case in the first last season in 2017.

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Nick Peralta

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