Fans are excited for the return of DWTNCS, but the first episode of the season is already controversial with the participation of former NFL player Greg Hardy.
Last summer’s break-out program, Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series (DWTNCS), returns tomorrow and is already being projected as the future of UFC programming on television. In many ways a more suitable alternative to The Ultimate Fighter, Dana White spends several Tuesdays in the summer watching up-and-coming fighters compete to possibly receive a UFC contract. But while the format is widely praised, the program has already drawn criticism before its second season as controversial former NFL player Greg Hardy was chosen to compete at tonight’s premiere.
In 2014, Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy was convicted of assaulting his ex-girlfriend Nicole Holder. According to reports, Hardy threw Holder onto a couch covered with assault weapons and made threats on her life. The most damning pieces of evidence were the highly publicized photos of Holder with bruises across her body (Warning, images are graphic). Hardy was convicted of the crime but the charges were dismissed upon the appeal. Hardy was suspended for a season before returning to the field in 2015. Subsequently, Holder made no further statements and reportedly settled out of court with Hardy. Hardy went on to sign with the Dallas Cowboys but was cut from the team due to his behavior, with incidents ranging from perpetual tardiness to slapping a clipboard out of a coach’s hand before entering a verbal altercation with Dez Bryant.
Hardy has not been in the NFL since and last fall made his amateur MMA debut. Since then, he has had two more amateur bouts and he has won all of his fights by first round stoppage. Earlier this year, it was announced that he would be a part of the DWTNCS. He will be making his professional debut against fellow former NFL player Austen Lane who is 4-0 in MMA.
White on Greg Hardy: He went through everything, the whole legal process. I guess he had a real bad drug and alcohol problem. He got into MMA, cleaned himself up. Everybody deserves a second chance. #UFC225
— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) June 10, 2018
Since the announcement, the move has been highly criticized with many feeling that Hardy’s past is being granted a pardon as the company is allowing him to profit from the program and possibly earn a contract with an international brand like the UFC. Dana White has stood by the decision, claiming that Hardy is turning his life around through mixed martial arts and opening the door for his redemption.
The UFC is no stranger to such incidents, and while it may draw ire, Hardy’s situation follows suit. Former fighters Travis Browne and Anthony Johnson both faced domestic violence allegations in their career (with Johnson even being convicted) and found themselves suspended before returning to the UFC cage. Officially, the charges against Hardy were dropped and his record was expunged following the incidents in 2014.
For his part, Greg Hardy has answered the questions. He understands there is a large part of the fanbase and public that do not wish to see him be given the privilege of performing on a stage like the UFC. His response: “Get to know me.” He implores the public to give him the same opportunity that they would to anyone else and insists that he wishes to earn his place in the Octagon.
It should be noted, Greg Hardy is not guaranteed a UFC contract with a victory. His performance could simply fall short, although many will be looking to see how White reacts if Hardy puts on an impressive showcase. The UFC has chosen to give Hardy this stage even with the public backlash. The question will be, will they take the next step if he delivers this evening.