After a successful NFL career that saw him earn Pro-Bowl honors in 2013, Hardy was drummed out of the NFL following a domestic violence dispute (the charges were subsequently dropped) and pivoted to a career in MMA. He was signed by the UFC in 2018 after a win on the Contender Series and made his promotional debut in 2019 where Hardy’s past immediately made him a lightning rod for criticism. Chief among those critics was Lewis, the No. 3 heavyweight fighter in the MMA Fighting Global Rankings and this week both men find themselves back in the news as Hardy will be facing Tai Tuivasa on the main card of UFC 264 this weekend and Lewis was just announced to be facing Ciryl Gane for an interim heavyweight title next month at UFC 265. Given their history, Hardy was asked about Lewis’ chances next month and “The Prince of War” pulled no punches when talking about “The Black Beast.”
“I’m going for Ciryl, bro. I can’t support fat,” Hardy said during the UFC 264 Media Day. “I can’t do it. He’s gelatinous, he’s lazy. I can’t root for him. He’s a great fighter but I refuse to do it. Plus he talks to much trash about me...
“He ran his mouth. Say my name and I’m coming for you. The boss is going to send me. That’s a guy that wasn’t mentioned but decided to grace his fat Popeye’s, greasy, chicken lips with my name when I was a peasant. When I was a young child. What grown man - what would it look like for me to attack somebody that just came off the Contender Series right now? You’d be like, ‘Ah, he’s childish!’ But you guys let that man gyrate, belittle me. Nah, he needs to be handled. He’s an ex-con that doesn’t know when to shut up and I’m gonna put him down when I need to. Of course, timing is everything and I’m still not there yet. I’m willing to admit that he is a better man right now but he’s still a fatty.”
The feud between Lewis and Hardy began when Lewis said he would love a chance to fight Hardy so he could knock out the “wife beater.” Hardy, in turn, suggested that Lewis’ own past - Lewis spent three years in prison for a parole violation in 2005 stemming from an aggravated assault charge where he allegedly beat up a KKK member who insulted him - should disqualify him from being the moral arbiter of right and wrong. But though Hardy clearly has an issue with Lewis’ portrayal of him, Lewis is far from the only person to cast Hardy as a villain, something Hardy feels is unwarranted.
“I’m not a villain,” Hardy said. “I’m well-spoken. I’m pretty. I eat well. I have kids. I’m a great father. I’m a great citizen. I’m an awesome American. I’m a Republican guy. I vote. What kind of villain would I be? I’ve never been convicted of anything that they said I was. Dude, I’m a regular, run-of-the-mill guy that’s learning on the way up, taking responsibility for his mess-ups and taking over. If I bow down to this villainous, cowardice stigma, dogma that they try to put on me, I wouldn’t be a ‘Prince’ now would I? I’d be a peasant. I’m a future king, why would I bow down?”
Bur before he can be a “king,” first Hardy has to attend to the task at hand which is Tuivasa. Though his previous career has made Hardy a very high-profile fighter for the UFC, the reality is that the former All-Pro is still early in his MMA career and thus far, things have been up and down for him. Hardy has yet to secure a win over a ranked heavyweight or even one that is still signed to the organization and in Tuivasa he faces a battle-hardened UFC veteran on a two-fighting winning streak. Fortunately for Hardy, he believes that Tuivasa will give him exactly the sort of blood-and-guts war that he’s looking for.
“I asked for it,” Hardy said. “I called him out. Honestly, this is a business and in the business you’ve got to have that turn around fight. I feel like, from my perspective, I was thinking about myself and about the fans. Like, alright, we’ve had one where we’re gonna challenge Greg Hardy, we’re gonna see what he can do. I failed. It happens. I knew that this was going to be my journey from the beginning, it was going to be a little bit rougher than everybody else’s. Now, it’s time to entertain these guys.
“At the end of the day, what guy haven’t you seen come and try to take me down? Everybody talks like they’re gonna knock me out. ‘Greg Hardy’s a villain, I’m going to put his face on the pavement’ and blah, blah, blah. Then they go surfing for shoelaces... You know my style, let’s bleed. If he thinks that I’m scared, let’s meet in the middle and we’ll see who quits or who dies? I’m down for either.”
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SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
Put dos anjos in at the same time.— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) July 8, 2021
It was a dive. Is it coincidence his last name is also Sterling? ♂️ #EURO2020— Petr “No Mercy” Yan (@PetrYanUFC) July 7, 2021
Derrick Lewis threw the first pitch for the Astros last night. It . . . didn’t go great.
The true sport of kings.
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