The UFC debut for one of the most controversial fighters in the sport has been booked, and that’s just part of the controversy, as I’ll discuss in today’s MMA Odds and Ends.
Greg Hardy vs. Allen Crowder, UFC on ESPN+ 1
A heavyweight bout between former NFL star Greg Hardy and Contender Series alum Allen Crowder has been added to UFC on ESPN+ 1, which takes place January 19 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto broke news of the bout. It’s unclear yet whether or not Hardy vs. Crowder will be placed on the main card to capitalize on the former Dallas Cowboy and Carolina Panther’s past fame, or if the UFC will place the bout on the prelims. Either way, there will be plenty of eyeballs on Hardy’s debut in the UFC, which won’t be without controversy as the former All-Pro defensive end washed out of the NFL in 2015 due to a domestic violence incident.
Whether you agree with UFC president Dana White signing Hardy or you don’t based on his terrible past, the fact of the matter is he’s now a UFC fighter, and as far as heavyweight prospects go, it’s easy to see why the UFC brass are intrigued by his potential. Hardy (3-0) made his pro MMA debut last year on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series and picked up a KO win over Austen Lane in the first round. He followed that up with another quick KO win on the Contender Series over Tebaris Gordon, and scored another first-round finish over Rasheem Jones on the regional circuit. Say what you want of him as a person, but the guy is an incredible athlete, and he possesses the pure KO power and sheer athleticism that could make him a dangerous heavyweight if he can shore up his grappling. For his UFC debut, the promotion has given him a very favorable matchup against Crowder, who has not fared so well inside the Octagon.
Crowder (9-3, 1 NC) was brutally knocked out by Justin Willis in his UFC debut last December and hasn’t fought since. Considering Willis has shown no signs of knockout power since then, that’s a very concerning defeat as Crowder faces Hardy next. Crowder will have advantages in this fight as far as experience goes, and he’s finished eight wins himself, but the fact he’s been knocked out in all three of his pro losses makes you wonder if he can take a punch from Hardy. The UFC likely doesn’t think he can, which is why they booked this fight. Even though Hardy has barely any experience in MMA, I’d still favor him quite a bit in this fight, and I believe the oddsmakers will as well.
What’s more controversial than just the UFC signing Hardy in general is the fact he is being put on the same card as Rachael Ostovich, who fights Paige VanZant in a women’s flyweight bout. Ostovich was recently the victim of a domestic violence assault in her native Hawaii, with her husband being accused on assaulting her, and social media has so far been outraged by the UFC’s decision to put Hardy on the same card as her. To me, the outrage is justified and this is just a bad look for the UFC to be so tone deaf about this. The promotion could have easily slipped in Hardy on the undercard of UFC 233, but instead wants the added media attention for its UFC debut, even though he’ll be competing on the same card as Ostovich. It’s just a bad call by the UFC, and it’s possible all the outrage will result in the fight being shifted to another event.
Kyle Nelson Fights Carlos Diego Ferreira At UFC 231
After Jesse Ronson was pulled from UFC 231, local Ontario fighter Kyle Nelson will step up on short notice to fight Carlos Diego Ferreira at this Saturday’s card at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. The odds are already out for this fight, with Ferreira opening as a -425 favortie and Nelson opening as a +305 underdog.