Former NFL defensive end Greg Hardy will debut in UFC on Jan. 19 during a UFC Fight Night event in Brooklyn, New York, where he will face off against heavyweight Allen Crowder.

Greg Hardy UFC
Greg Hardy will make his UFC debut in January after a 3-0 start to his professional career, including two wins on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. (Image: UFC)

Hardy’s first UFC fight comes after the 30-year-old has shown potential as a mixed martial artist in his first three professional fights, winning all three by knockout in the first round.

Hardy Moving Up From Developmental Circuit

After winning three amateur MMA contests, Hardy (3-0) has won two professional fights in Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, after which he knocked out Ray Jones at Xtreme Fight Night 352 in September. All three of his professional bouts have lasted less than one minute.

Hardy was signed to a developmental deal with the UFC right after his pro debut, allowing him to get experience on smaller stages before jumping up to the promotion. While Hardy was originally slated to fight on another regional card on Dec. 21, UFC president Dana White said that those plans were scrapped in order to allow Hardy to make his official UFC debut.

For his first fight on the major stage, Hardy will be taking on Crowder (9-3), who has not fought since December 2017 due to injuries. Crowder is also relatively new to the UFC, having fought just once in the promotion: his last fight, which ended in a first-round knockout loss to Justin Willis.

Hardy’s bout will be on the first UFC on ESPN+ card, part of the 15 event, $750 million deal between ESPN and UFC that was announced in May.

‘Tone-Deaf’ Booking Places Hardy on Card with Domestic Violence Victim

The fact that Hardy will be making a televised appearance on a UFC show is controversial. Hardy was placed on the exempt list and forced to sit out almost the entirety of the 2014 season while he was facing domestic violence charges. Hardy was convicted of the crime, but later had the charges expunged after the victim did not appear in court during his appeal. Hardy last played in the NFL in 2015 with the Dallas Cowboys.

That background would make Hardy a controversial addition to the UFC under any circumstances, but some critics are finding the timing of his debut even more questionable. Not only is Hardy on the first ESPN+ show, but it is on the same card as Rachael Ostovich, who herself was the victim of domestic violence last month.

Ostovich suffered a broken orbital bone in the altercation, but will still fight on the January card, saying that doing so will set an example for other victims and women in general.

“I felt that it was extremely important to me to follow through with it and not only for me but for my daughter and other people that might be going through similar situations,” Ostovich told KHON2 last week. “I want to take a stand against domestic violence and show others that it’s okay to come out and speak about it and not be quieted.”

Ostovich (4-4) is set to take on Paige VanZant (7-4) on the Jan. 19 card. As of yet, there has been no official announcement of a main event for the show.