UFC Moscow is set to go down this Saturday night.
What was originally headlined by a heavyweight collision between hometown favorite, Alexander Volkov, and the former champion, Junior Dos Santos, is no more.
After a bacterial infection in Junior Dos Santos’ leg forced him out of his bout with Alexander Volkov, it left the UFC scrambling for a replacement on just a few weeks’ notice. Rather than going with the somewhat obvious option in the anticipating “Predator,” Francis Ngannou, the UFC went with the rising prospect, Greg Hardy.
For the 5-1 (1 NC) Hardy, this will be his fifth fight of 2019 thus giving him the record for most fights in one year for a UFC heavyweight. He last fought at UFC Boston on Oct. 18 when he scored what was initially a unanimous decision win against Ben Sosoli.
Due to Hardy’s usage of an inhaler between the second and third rounds, an act that is illegal under the Massachusetts State Atheltic Commission, the result was quickly overturned to a no-contest following the bout’s conclusion.
Since starting MMA in late 2017, controversy has followed Hardy thanks to his past run-ins with the law while apart of the National Football League (NFL).
In May 2014, as a member of the Carolina Panthers, Hardy was arrested for “assault and communicating threats” to his then-girlfriend after allegedly assaulting her by grabbing her and throwing her onto the couch before strangling her and threatening her life.
In July of that same year, he was found guilty for assault and communicating threats, therefore, resulting in a sentence of 18-months probation and 60 days in jail. However, Hardy would have his charges dropped as when he appealed the decision and requested a jury trial, the victim didn’t end up arriving in court to testify. Leading to the prosecutor’s office dropping the charges due to their “inability to locate the victim, and reliable information that the two parties had reached a civil settlement.”
Fast-forward to September and the Panthers had deactivated their star Defensive End and put on the NFL’s exempt list. Meaning he could “continue to draw his salary but was prohibited in taking part in any team activities.”
In April 2015, a two-month-long investigation on Hardy resulted in him being suspended for 10 games, as they found that there was “sufficient credible evidence” of Hardy’s engagement in conduct that “violated NFL policies in multiple respects and with aggravating circumstances.”
Although he was allowed to play with the Dallas Cowboys during the 2015 season, the NFL’s investigation came to the conclusion that physical force in at least four different instances were used by Hardy. That included “placing his hands around the victim’s neck with enough pressure to leave visible marks, and that his actions were a significant act of violence in violation of the Personal Conduct Policy.”
Greg Hardy has garnered many different types of comments about his past from the MMA community. Some of which have been louder than others – such as his fellow heavyweight, Derrick Lewis’.
Since Hardy’s entrance into the UFC, Lewis has shared his opinion stating that “it looks bad” to have someone with Hardy’s past on the roster. When asked at UFC Moscow media day what he thought of Lewis’ comments, Hardy had the following to say.
“I think in Russia you guys are pretty smart, very proud, and really understanding…” Hardy told RT Sport. “So I think he’s like – a felon, he’s been to prison. I just don’t think somebody that’s been to prison is allowed to say what the standard is. And you guys would understand that, right? We don’t listen to people that contradict themselves.”
In 2005, Lewis was sentenced to five years in prison for violating a two-year probation from an aggravated assault charge. In an interview with MMA Junkie, Lewis detailed the situation that got him in prison as a run-in with a Klu Klux Klan member holding a shotgun that insulted him. He would only serve three and a half of the five years sentenced for causing “bodily harm” to the Klansman.
Lewis just recently earned a big split decision win over Blagoy Ivanov at UFC 244 this past Saturday. If Greg Hardy can top Russia’s Volkov in the co-main event this weekend, it could very well set the two up for what appears to be an inevitable clash.
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The Scrap’s Drake Riggs is an MMA writer and YouTuber based out of Brush Prairie, Washington who specializes in feature pieces, the women’s fight scene, lists, news coverage, and rankings. Riggs has been a passionate MMA fan since 2009 and has written for various news sources. You can follow him on Twitter (@Dre_Kriggs).