No, the Greg Hardy situation isn't about second chances or redemption – it's about money

There was a telling moment in the pre-fight hype package that ran on UFC Fight Pass just prior to Greg Hardy’s Tuesday evening victory on Dana White’s Contender Series.

While trying to allude to his “checkered past” without explicitly naming it, producers showed us clips of Hardy (1-0) walking up the steps to the courthouse while he lamented the loss of his NFL career in a voiceover.

“The worst day of my life was when all that was taken away,” Hardy said, before catching himself. “Or, when I gave it away. And I just had to sit on the side and watch everybody entertain and make people happy and do the things that I wanted to do but couldn’t do anymore.”

See what happened there? The whole narrative just changed.

Instead of his NFL exit being a story about how Hardy was effectively run out of the league after a domestic violence arrest and conviction (which was subsequently overturned on appeal, when the victim couldn’t be located to testify) it became a sad tale of woe in which a promising young athlete lost his chance to bring joy to millions.

This seems to be the version of the story that the UFC is intent on pitching. When pressed about his decision to include Hardy in the fight series that bears his name, UFC President Dana White has tried two routes, sometimes more or less simultaneously: 1) Hardy doesn’t actually have a domestic violence conviction on his record, thanks to the appeal, and 2) Everybody deserves a second chance.

These are incompatible arguments. The first argues that he’s essentially not guilty, while the second argues that even the guilty are still deserving of redemption. Those don’t work together. If you’re the promoter, you’ve got to pick a lane here.

By the time Tuesday’s event rolled around, White seemed to have settled on a path.

“People always make mistakes, and the thing about making mistakes is, how do you recover from that? How do you act after you’ve done something bad?” White said. “This guy has paid his dues, and like I said, he hit rock bottom. He built himself back up, he’s going out there, and he’s fighting in these amateur fights where he doesn’t get paid. Now he came here, and I think he made $10,000 and $10,000. He’s working his way back up the ladder. He’s doing the right things. He’s off drugs, he’s off alcohol, and he’s trying to change his life.”

The Hardy hype package pushed a similar narrative. He was going down the wrong path while in the NFL, we were told, but getting into MMA helped him turn his life around.

Except, apart from the fact that he’s won some fights and has avoided any subsequent arrests (apart from the one for cocaine possession that helped hasten his exit from the Dallas Cowboys), we don’t have any evidence of Hardy turning his life around.

He certainly hasn’t expressed much in the way of remorse. As recently as two years ago he was proclaiming his innocence on these charges and implying that the photos published by Deadspin were faked.

This also isn’t the first time Hardy’s been the beneficiary of a second chance storyline. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who once called domestic violence “intolerable,” later defended his team’s decision to sign Hardy to a $13 million free agent contract.

“We have given Greg a second chance,” Jones said in a statement. “He is a member of our team and someone who is grateful for the opportunity he has been given to move forward with his life and his career.”

Sounds an awful lot like White, who once said that domestic violence was “one thing you never come back from,” only to change his mind later, and in more than once instance.

Look, we all know why White is so interested in Hardy, and it’s not because of his love for second chances (just ask Jason High or Paul Daley). He looks at the big, athletic heavyweight with knockout power and he sees dollar signs. He sees potential profits that outweigh the outrage from fans and fellow fighters, plenty of whom have themselves been the victims of domestic violence.

This isn’t about redemption – it’s about money.

It’s really that simple. It always has been. The least we can do – and I do mean the very least – is be honest with ourselves about it.

For additional coverage of Dana White’s Contender Series 9, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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