Earlier this week, the UFC made some extremely negative headlines when it booked controversial heavyweight Greg Hardy on the same card as Rachael Ostovich.
The move was considered short-sighted and even idiotic due to the fact that Ostovich had only recently been the victim of a very public domestic violence incident. The alleged attack from her husband Arnold Berdon left her with a broken orbital bone as a result. It also forced her out of her scheduled UFC on ESPN+1 fight against Paige VanZant.
Hardy is, of course, an accused domestic abuser himself. His highly-publicized case from 2014 undoubtedly played a big role in him being forced out of the NFL. He’s since rebounded in MMA and racked up several knockout wins. UFC President Dana White has repeatedly insisted Hardy has turned his life around.
Ostovich got a second opinion from her doctor and will fight VanZant after all. However, many fans and media members were shocked to see Hardy booked on the same card as Ostovich. Overall, it seemed like an avoidable mess with an endless stream of UFC events forthcoming.
White discussed the situation via TSN’s Aaron Bronstetter, confirming that Hardy will stay on the card and is continuing his rehabilitation:
“Yeah, absolutely. I mean, he’s gonna be tied to that for the rest of his career, for the rest of his life. You know, this is a guy who has spent the last five years of his life rehabilitating himself from drugs, alcohol, anger management, you name it. Rebuilding his life. He hit rock bottom, he lost his job. And you know, he’s building a family now, he has a son and a daughter and he’s trying to put that behind him.”
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.
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
— Aaron Bronsteter (@aaronbronsteter) December 6, 2018
White continued that he had spoken with Ostovich since her attack. He said he had spoken with her about fighting with Hardy on the same card and she was totally fine with it. It was supposedly even a key factor in making the decision:
“Well, first of all, I called Rachael Ostovich and talked to her and walked her through this situation. And 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.’
“And you know, he didn’t do anything to Rachael Ostovich. So, she was totally cool with it. So obviously, having her support was a key factor in making that decision.”
The outspoken UFC president then affirmed that the card was being worked on months ahead of time and they thought Ostovich was off of it due to her recovery. But when she called and pleaded her case, White agreed to let her fight:
“First of all, these cards get worked on months ahead of time. And Rachael was off the card because of what happened. Then she called me back. And she said, first of all, I wasn’t letting her fight after what happened. I was like, there’s no way she can 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.”
Timing Is Still Off
That may be the case, but the timing still seems incredibly off. Ostovich was confirmed to be back fighting on UFC on ESPN+1 days before Hardy was announced for the event. Unless they had booked Hardy for the event in the time they thought she was off and didn’t announce it, it’s still a bad look.
Asked if Ostovich and Hardy would be doing media together, White said he wasn’t even thinking about that. Anyone could make an issue out of it, he said, but the only person’s opinion he cared about was Ostovich. She had no issue:
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“I don’t know, I’m not even thinking about it that way. Listen, if you wanna make it an issue, you can make it an issue. 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.”