Former NFL player Greg Hardy will compete in his first MMA contest when he meets Joe Hawkins in an amateur heavyweight bout at Rise of a Warrior 21 on Nov. 4 at the Havert L. Fenn Center in Fort Pierce, Fla.
The news was confirmed by MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani after Hardy tweeted a response to a fan who was asking when he would fight (h/t to Bleacher Report):
Hardy, 29, was involved in a highly publicized domestic violence case in May 2014 when his girlfriend reported that he assaulted her and threatened to kill her. After initially receiving 18 months probation, Hardy appealed the verdict and the charges were later dropped when the alleged victim failed to testify.
The Carolina Panthers did not re-sign Hardy following the accusations, and he would play 12 games for the Dallas Cowboys in the 2015-2016 season before they too declined to bring Hardy back.
Hardy has been working with the American Top Team gym to prepare for his fighting career. In an appearance on The MMA Hour this past February, Hardy said that training in MMA was beneficial to him moving on from his controversial past.
“It’s helped me a lot of ways,” Hardy said. “I have a lot of problems as a human being. It’s not something that you do, just walking around saying ‘I’m perfect’ or ‘I’m good.’ Man, I have a lot of different issues that I’m definitely working through and working on. I would say this helps me channel everything. It helps me just come back down to Earth, be humble, because these are machines that I see everyday. I get choked out, punched in the face, and laid out on the mat daily, and that’s not something that a guy my size and my stature with my history has every come across.
“It’s a humbling experience, man,” he continued. “Actually, it’s making me really appreciative of everything that I’ve had and everything that I have, and the opportunity that I have to kinda come in and show myself as a guy that is not what everybody says on TV, or, ‘he’s not a monster, he’s not a killer, a women beater,’ this, that and the other. It gives me an opportunity to just come in, be a humble guy, and learn, and honestly just be at the feet of all these champions who walk around like they’re just normal guys … and have the opportunity to make myself better one more time, one last time in sports and life in general.”