On Thursday, the UFC president told TSN that he spoke with Ostovich and her feedback was a “key factor” in the promotion scheduling Hardy to fight on the UFC on ESPN+ card Jan. 19 in Brooklyn. Hardy, a former NFL star, has a history of domestic violence, while Ostovich was allegedly attacked and hospitalized by her husband, fellow fighter Arnold Berdon, last month.
“First of all, I called Rachael Ostovich and talked to her and walked her through this situation,” White told the UFC’s Canadian broadcast partner. “Her take on it was, ‘His story isn’t my story. Everybody’s story is different and I believe in second chances. I have no problem fighting on the same card with this guy.’ He didn’t do anything to Rachael Ostovich. She was totally cool with it. Having her support was a key factor in making that decision.”
Dana White discusses the decision to have Greg Hardy compete on January 19th, the same card as Rachael Ostovich, a recent victim of domestic violence.— Aaron Bronsteter (@aaronbronsteter) December 6, 2018
White has spoken to Rachael since Hardy was added to hear her feelings on it. Hardy will remain on the card despite the backlash pic.twitter.com/6EHMIXS9lm
ESPN broke the news Tuesday that Hardy would be fighting Allen Crowder on the Jan. 19 event at Barclays Center. Ostovich was already scheduled to fight Paige VanZant on the card — the UFC’s ESPN debut — despite injuries she sustained in the alleged attack, including what Honolulu police said was a fractured orbital bone.
“These cards get worked on months ahead of time,” White said. “Rachael was off the card because of what happened. Then she called me back, she said — first of all, I wasn’t letting her fight after what had just happened to her. I was like, there’s no way she should fight right now, she needs to take some time. She called me and gave me 75 reasons why she needs to be on this card. And I agreed with her. So, we did it.”
Ostovich confirmed White’s description of the events Thursday on social media.
Berdon has been charged with second-degree assault and will have a preliminary hearing Dec. 18. Ostovich was granted a temporary restraining order in the case, writing in the petition, according to TMZ, that she was hit in the face, arms and ribs repeatedly, causing her to cough up blood. She also wrote that he had abused her before. Berdon pleaded not guilty last week and family members told TMZ that he was only defending himself in the incident.
Hardy was convicted on domestic violence charges in 2014, though the case was dropped after an appeal when the alleged victim did not appear in court to testify. Law enforcement was unable to locate her and speculation was that she and Hardy came to a financial settlement agreement.
The accuser, Nicole Holder, testified in the initial case that the 6-foot-4, 270-pound Hardy threw her in the bathroom and later onto a futon filled with guns. She testified that Hardy put his hands on her throat and threatened to kill her. Hardy denied that, saying he never put his hands on her or threatened her, but left the room when Holder became angry he would not have sex with her.
Hardy has and continues to deny that he committed domestic violence. The NFL concluded in an investigation, though, that he used physical force against Holder on at least four occasions. Hardy was suspended 10 games by the NFL, but it was downgraded to four in arbitration.
The Dallas Cowboys picked Hardy up in 2015, but cut him after the season after he clashed with the team’s coach and teammates. Hardy, who now trains at American Top Team in Florida, was arrested for cocaine possession in November 2016 and sentenced to two years of probation in March 2017 after a plea deal.
Hardy, 30, began an amateur MMA career last year and has gone 3-0 with all first-round knockouts in his pro career in 2018. His athleticism makes him one of the top prospects in the UFC heavyweight division in some time.
“If you wanted to make it an issue, you could make it an issue,” White said about Hardy and Ostovich fighting on the same card. “Everybody can make it an issue if they want to. Rachael Ostovich doesn’t have an issue with it and that’s all that matters to me.”