‘Sec­ond chance’ for for­mer NFLer

UFC card re­flects vic­tims, the ac­cused in do­mes­tic vi­o­lence cases

Toronto Star - - SPORTS - NEIL DAVIDSON

A for­mer foot­ball player chased from the NFL fol­low­ing a do­mes­tic vi­o­lence charge. And a fe­male fighter whose hus­band faces a charge of at­tempted mur­der for al­legedly as­sault­ing her.

UFC pres­i­dent Dana White says Rachael Os­tovich has no prob­lem with for­mer Carolina Pan­ther and Dal­las Cow­boy Greg Hardy shar­ing the high­pro­file Jan­uary card.

“I talked to Rachel Os­tovich. Rachel said ‘His story isn’t my story,’ ” White said in an in­ter­view Thurs­day. “‘Ev­ery­body’s story is dif­fer­ent and this guy’s never done any­thing to me. I have no prob­lem fight­ing on the card with him.’

“And I’m a big be­liever in sec­ond chances. So her opin­ion was the opin­ion that I was con­cerned with. And that was it.”

Os­tovich is slated to meet Paige VanZant on the Jan. 19 show in Brook­lyn, N.Y.

Hardy is sched­uled to make his UFC de­but against Allen Crow­der on the card, the first of the UFC’s new lu­cra­tive deal with ESPN.

Honolulu po­lice ar­rested Arnold Ber­don, also a mixed martial arts fighter, last month on charges of at­tempted mur­der af­ter he al­legedly punched Os­tovich in the head, ribs and face, frac­tur­ing her eye socket.

Hardy was con­victed in July 2014 of as­sault­ing and threat­en­ing a woman who con­tended the six-foot-four, 275-pounder threw her in a bath­tub and onto a sofa cov­ered with guns be­fore threat­en­ing to kill her.

But North Carolina pros­e­cu­tors dis­missed do­mes­tic vi­o­lence charges against Hardy in Fe­bru­ary 2015, say­ing the ac­cuser in the case couldn’t be found. The dis­missal hap­pened just as Hardy’s ap­peal in the case was set to be­gin. Court heard the woman had reached a civil suit agree­ment with Hardy

He’s been out of the NFL the past three years, fo­cus­ing on an MMA ca­reer and even­tu­ally earn­ing a con­tract with the UFC.

Other sports have been less for­giv­ing but White, while say­ing what Hardy did was “hor­ri­ble,” says he has turned his life around. “The guy went to re­hab — drugs and al­co­hol — went to ther­apy for anger man­age­ment. Did all this stuff. He’s still in it now,” White said. “He’s still do­ing ther­apy — five years later.

“Never was in trou­ble be­fore that. Never was in trou­ble af­ter. All of the peo­ple that he trains with down in Florida — women and ev­ery­body — re­spect him, think he’s a good guy.

“He’s got a wife, a son, he just had a new baby daugh­ter. The guy’s try­ing to make a liv­ing for his fam­ily and he made a mis­take.”

The 30-year-old Hardy is 3-0 as a pro MMA fighter, with his bouts last­ing a to­tal of two min­utes seven sec­onds. The last two bouts were part of White’s Tues­day Night Con­tender Se­ries.

His three ama­teur fights were also first-round knock­outs, last­ing a com­bined two min­utes 22 sec­onds.

“He’s an in­cred­i­ble ath­lete. He hits re­ally hard and he loves to fight,” White said. “We’ll see what he can do.”

Greg Hardy was con­victed of as­sault­ing a woman. Rachael Os­tovich’s hus­band faces a charge of at­tempted mur­der.

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