Greg Hardy, his NFL career stalled, is making a move to mixed martial arts, a career path that displeases Jay Glazer of Fox Sports.
Hardy, the 28-year-old free agent who has been unable to find an NFL team this season, has been training for months in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, MMAFighting.com reports, and several promotions have shown interest in signing him.
“I’m very focused and excited to start my MMA career,” Hardy said in a statement. “I’m going to do this the right way, I can assure you of that.”
Hardy was a stellar if volatile defensive end for the Carolina Panthers, but his career nosedived after he missed most of the 2014 season because of an alleged assault incident involving an ex-girlfriend and a bed covered with guns. Initially suspended 10 games, his sentence was reduced as the NFL grappled with how to punish players during its domestic violence crisis of 2014. Hardy was found guilty by a North Carolina judge and, following procedure in that state, asked for a jury trial. The case was dismissed when the alleged victim did not appear.
Glazer cites Hardy’s past as a reason to keep him out of MMA.
“I would be incredibly disappointed in any of my fellow MMA coaches and any promoters if they took Greg Hardy in and taught him a shred of our incredible sport. Many of us train women in self defense specifically to help protect vs. domestic violence,” Glazer tweeted. “Me and all my coaches at [Unbreakable, Glazer’s gym] do and take great pride in that. Competing in any sport is a privilege, Greg Hardy should not be granted the privilege. There are many beautiful arts taught in our sport, none of which should be afforded to him.”
The Panthers let Hardy walk after that season and he ended up signing with the Dallas Cowboys in 2015. He never returned to his previous form, though, and was a near-constant distraction. When he was activated after his four-game suspension, he immediately grabbed headlines with an odd interview in which he speculated about the attractiveness of the wives of quarterbacks such as Tom Brady and Blake Bortles. He continued to talk about guns, an uncomfortable topic given the nature of the assault charge.
“I hope I come out guns blazin’. I’m full of excitement and full of juice,” Hardy said. “I’m ready to go. I have what they call fresh legs. I’m really excited to get out there on that grass or turf and see what they can do.”
When he missed team meetings, became a sideline irritant and reportedly partied while not producing, the Cowboys chose not to re-sign him. No other team has publicly considered him and, last month, he was arrested on a cocaine possession charge in a Dallas suburb.
Hardy weighs in at 285, his team told MMA Fighting, and he probably will fight as a heavyweight, with a likely debut next year. In a tweet he later deleted Monday, Hardy announced his new website, promising “The ultimate comeback” and the coming of “Greg Hardy 2.0.”
“I’m fully committed to being as successful as I can be in this sport,” he said in the statement to MMA Fighting.