Greg Hardy says he's willing to face continued criticism while he chases a UFC championship

LAS VEGAS – Greg Hardy (1-0) admits he has no idea what the future holds, but if it entails further scrutiny of his checkered past, he insists he’s willing to face it head on.

“If I was a genie, or if I was fortune teller, I’d play the lottery instead of fighting or instead of having a job,” Hardy told MMAjunkie following his win at Dana White’s Contender Series 9. “I don’t know how people are going to react, but I know – and a message to everybody – that I’m willing to go up against it every day of my life to prove that I am a human being, I have worth, I am willing to earn it – and that I’m an entertainer, and I’m one of the best in the world. I keep the fans happy, and I love them just as much as I love my family.”

Hardy’s legal troubles have been well-documented. A former NFL all-pro defensive lineman, Hardy had an unceremonious exit from the league following a string of incidents, most notable a 2014 misdemeanor conviction following his involvement in a domestic violence incident. The charges were later dropped on appeal when the victim refused to testify.

UFC President Dana White decided to give Hardy a contract following the heavyweight’s Tuesday win in Las Vegas, though he won’t go straight to the world’s largest MMA promotion, instead taking a few more fights on the regional level to continue and hone his game.

After registering a 57-second knockout in his professional debut, Hardy said that plan works just fine.

“They’re going to build me up, and that’s how I’m going to get my shot,” Hardy said. “I’m all for it. Like I said before, I want to earn this, and it’s a perfect opportunity for me to come back, perfect my game, come out and show what I have to give. As many times as I have to do it, I’m willing to do it.

“I’m 1-0. That’s awesome, and it’s really cool. I worked hard. But at the same time, I’ve got five fights, and it’s something that needs to be earned.”

The questions will continue to be raised each step along the way. As White told reporters Tuesday, Hardy is “always going to hear it” when it comes to critics who believe he doesn’t deserve a second chance in the spotlight after his previous infractions. But White said he believes Hardy is now on the straight and narrow and is doing everything it takes to recover from rock bottom.

For his part, Hardy has taken a humble approach to his progress, thanking his fellow heavyweights at American Top Team for assisting in his development but insisting he knows he’s nowhere near their level right now.

“We’re talking about pros,” Hardy said. “We’re talking about some of the best in the business, some of the most dangerous men on the planet. It’s an honor and a pleasure to be in the gym with them, and that’s the reason that I’ve been able to move so fast and adapt so fast, just going up against guys of that caliber and having those guys actually teach me.”

What he’s ultimate capable fo achieving in MMA remains to be seen. At 29, he’s certainly getting a later start than most. But he’s certainly got the athleticism to succeed. And he believes that he’ll handle the baggage that comes along with his past decisions in stride as he moves toward his ultimate goal.

“Winning belts,” Hardy said. “That’s what it’s about: becoming the best. That’s what I’m here to do.

“I’m here to compete. I’m here to become the best athlete in the world. I’m here to put my athletic ability, I’m here to put my talent, I’m here to put my hard work on display. I’m here to entertain and become the best. That’s my goal.”

To hear more from Hardy, check out the video above.

And for more on Dana White’s Contender Series 9, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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