Former Carolina Panther and Dallas Cowboy Greg Hardy is making good on his pledge to transition to MMA after leaving the NFL.
Hardy, who has had multiple run-ins with the law, will make his professional mixed martial arts debut on June 12 in a heavyweight matchup against Brandon Sayles on a Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, according to MMA Today.
The 6-foot-5, 280-pound Hardy made his amateur debut in November and picked up a 32-second TKO win, reports MMAJunkie.com. His second fight was three times as long, but he finished with a head-kick TKO, and in February, he took out Ryan Chester at LFA 33 in an amateur bout in just 14 seconds, reported MMAJunkie.
Hardy’s entry into MMA came with controversy in 2016, following the end of his NFL career.
He played five seasons for the Panthers and became a breakout star in 2013 when he had 15 sacks and was named to the Pro Bowl team. But two months after he signed a franchise-tag deal with Carolina that guaranteed him $13.1 million for the 2014 season, he was arrested in a domestic violence incident with a former girlfriend. That cost him most of the 2014 season.
A judge later found Hardy guilty of assaulting a female and communicating threats (misdemeanors), and he was sentenced to 18 months' probation and a suspended 60-day jail sentence, according to SBNation.
Hardy signed a one-year deal with Dallas in 2015. He missed the first four games of the 2015 season, completing a suspension that began the year before. Then in 2016, he was charged with cocaine possession in a Dallas suburb.
Hardy recently told SBNation that he feels moving into MMA fighting is a way to rebuild his life.
“I’m better as a person, I’m doing better holistically as a human being," Hardy told SBNation's BloodyElbow.com.