Greg Hardy is not interested in the opinions of others.
Last month, Hardy won a unanimous decision over Ben Sosoli at UFC on ESPN 6. Like many things with Hardy though, the outcome was full of controversy as Hardy used his inhaler between rounds, after asking a ringside official if it was okay. And despite the ringside official clearing its use, it was certainly not okay and resulted in the fight being overturned to a no-contest after the bout. Speaking with Russian media outlet RT Sports ahead of his fight this weekend, Hardy called the incident a rookie mistake and said he’s already moving on to what’s next.
“I’m a rookie, things happen,” Hardy said. “I didn’t know. They said I could. It’s all in the past. It was a smaller deal than it should’ve been and everybody’s kind of over it.”
The inhaler incident is yet another in a seemingly endless number of controversies for the former NFL All-Pro. Hardy transitioned into MMA after being run out of professional football for domestic violence allegations. That alone was enough to ruffle feathers when Hardy was signed to a UFC contract after his first professional fight and since then, things still haven’t really cooled down.
Hardy’s first UFC fight saw him get disqualified after knocking out his opponent with an illegal knee in a fight many thought Hardy was losing. He next faced an opponent even Dana White was critical of as not being very good. A quick win over the unproven Juan Adams followed and then the Sosoli No Contest happened. All in all, it’s been a tumultuous start to his UFC career and some fighters have been highly critical of his presence in the UFC, chief among them Derrick Lewis who has consistently called for a fight with Hardy and says that Hardy is giving the organization a bad name. When asked about Lewis’ comments, Hardy responded.
“I think he’s like a felon,” Hardy said. “He’s been to prison. I just don’t think somebody that’s been to prison is allowed to say what the standard is… We don’t listen to people that contradict themselves.”
Lewis has in fact been to prison. He spent about three and a half years in jail starting in 2005 for a parole violation stemming from an aggravated assault charge while in high school where he allegedly beat down a Ku Klux Klan member who insulted him. Since getting out of prison, Lewis has been been open about his struggles and how MMA has helped him move past them whereas one of the major critiques of Hardy is that he has never acknowledged wrongdoing with the domestic violence charges (Hardy was originally sentenced to 18-months probation, a suspended 60-day jail sentence, but on appeal the conviction was overturned and the charges expunged from his record when the victim failed to appear in court to testify).
Should Hardy win this weekend, a bout with Lewis seems inevitable and would certainly be a marketable fight. But with the UFC fresh off perhaps the most marketable fight of the year, the BMF title bout between Hardy’s teammate Jorge Masvidal and Nate Diaz, new titles are all the rage and it’s a possible BMF heavyweight bout that really seems to spark Hardy’s interest. If the UFC were to make such a thing, Hardy believes he should be one of the two guys to get to fight for it.
“I think it would 100 percent be the most active heavyweight in UFC history [points at himself], and hmmm . . . BMF,” Hardy mused. “We could bring out Brock Lesnar, maybe? No, no, no. For sure it would probably have to be Stipe.”
For now though Hardy has bigger concerns. This Saturday he takes on seventh-ranked Alexander Volkov in the co-main event of UFC Moscow. Volkov is by far the most experienced fighter Hardy has ever faced and was originally supposed to fight Hardy’s teammate Junior dos Santos before he was forced to withdraw due to an infection.
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Thanks for reading, enjoy the fights, and see y’all on Monday.
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