The latest season of “Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series” kicked off last night. That alone would be news that barely moves the needle, because, well, it’s just fights between dudes hoping to get a UFC contract. But there was someone noteworthy in the cage for this first episode – although his noteworthiness stems from some ugly extracurricular activities in a prior profession.
Greg Hardy played pro football, and while he was with the Dallas Cowboys, he got arrested for some harrowing domestic violence charges. Ultimately, he was found guilty, but on appeal the charges were dropped because the complainant (his ex-girlfriend) failed to testify. This sort of thing happens often, and can stem from a victim having a change of heart about pursuing all avenues of criminal prosecution. It can even happen from victims getting intimidated, or reaching some form of out-of-court agreement involving stacks of cash and/or gold doubloons.
When it was announced that Hardy was going to participate in DWTNCS, there was a bit of an uproar in certain media circles. Why would the UFC even consider letting someone accused of domestic violence in the door of the TUF Gym?
That uproar reached a fever pitch last night, and when Hardy knocked out his opponent, and earned himself a UFC contract, the story line was suddenly about how the UFC – a multi-billion dollar corporation built on the backs of men and women paid to beat the crap out of each other – lacked a moral compass. How could they do this? How could Dana White justify it?
The truth is, it’s not White’s – or the UFC’s – job to be the moral compass of the sport. Sure, the UFC is largely responsible for getting the sport legalized nearly everywhere, and they’ve given fighters the boot for everything from tweets made in poor taste to outright nasty conduct inside and outside of the cage. But they’ve also turned a blind eye to the crimes and misdemeanors of their biggest star, Conor McGregor. And they can. They can do all of that stuff. There really is no obligation for them to make sure all of their fighters are saints, or even a duty to just make sure their fighters have never been accused of laying a hand on a female.
Being mad at the UFC for giving Hardy a contract is fine. Don’t watch any UFC events that Hardy takes part in. Or do. It honestly doesn’t matter, because either way the fights are going to happen. People are going to tune in to watch Hardy “redeem” himself, or get his comeuppance, and the UFC knows this, just like they know people will watch McGregor no matter how many windows the Irishman smashes.
Personally, when Hardy gets enough experience and steps into the Octagon proper for a real fight on a real UFC event, I think it’ll be great. Because I’ll be rooting for the other guy – regardless of who that other guy is.
Welcome to the fight business, folks. If you want to soak up something less amoral, volunteer at a soup kitchen.