There was a revealing moment in the hype package before the fight that ran on UFC Fight Pass just before Tuesday night's Greg Hardy victory in Dana White's Contender series.
In trying to allude to his "past checkered" without explicitly naming him, the producers showed us clips of Hardy (1-0) climbing the steps to the courthouse while mourning the loss of his NFL career in a voice in off.
"The worst day of my life was when everything was taken away," said Hardy, before catching him. "Or, when I gave it away." And I just had to sit on my side and watch everyone entertain and make people happy and do the things they wanted to do but could not do anymore. "
See what happened there? The whole narrative has just changed.
Instead of his leaving the NFL is a story about how Hardy was effectively expelled from the league after an arrest for domestic violence and conviction (which was subsequently overturned on appeal, when the victim could not be located to testify ) became a sad story of sadness in which a promising young athlete missed the opportunity to cheer up millions.
This seems to be the version of the story that the UFC is trying to launch, when asked about their decision to include Hardy in the fight series that bears his name, UFC President Dana White has tried two routes, sometimes more or less simultaneously: 1) Hardy does not have a conviction for domestic violence on his record, thanks to the appeal, and 2) Everyone deserves a second chance.
These are incompatible arguments. The first argues that he is not essentially guilty, while the second argues that even the guilty still deserve redemption. Those do not work together. If you are the promoter, you must choose a lane here.
By the time Tuesday's event arrived, White seemed to have settled on a path.
"People always make mistakes, and the thing about making mistakes is, how do you recover from that? How do you act after doing something wrong?" White said. "This guy has paid off his debts, and as I said, he hit bottom, he built a backup, he will go out and fight in these amateur fights where he is not paid, now he came here, and I think he won $ 10,000 and $ 10,000. working on his way back on the ladder, he's doing the right things, he's drug-free, he's not drinking alcohol and he's trying to change his life. "
Hardy's exaggeration package gave rise to a similar narrative. I was on the wrong track while I was in the NFL, they told us, but getting into MMA helped change his life.
Except, aside from the fact that he has won some fights and avoided any further arrest (apart from the possession of cocaine that helped speed his departure from the Dallas Cowboys), we have no evidence that Hardy changes his life .
He certainly has not expressed too much about remorse. Recently, two years ago, he proclaimed his innocence with these charges and implied that the photos published by Deadspin were false.
This is not the first time that Hardy is a beneficiary of a second chance story. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who once called domestic violence "intolerable," then defended his team's decision to hire Hardy for a $ 13 million free agent contract.
"We've given Greg a second chance," Jones said in a statement. "He is a member of our team and someone who is grateful for the opportunity he has been given to move forward with his life and career."
It sounds a lot like White, who once said that domestic violence was "something you never go back," only to change your mind later, and on more than one occasion.
Look, we all know why White is so interested in Hardy, and it's not because of his love of second chances (just ask Jason High or Paul Daley). He looks at the big athletic heavyweight with knockout power and sees dollar signs. He sees potential gains that outweigh the outrage of fans and fellow wrestlers, many of whom have been victims of domestic violence.
It's not about redemption, it's about money.
It's that simple. It has always been like this. The least we can do, and I mean at least is to be honest with ourselves about it.
For additional coverage of the Dana White 9 Dtender series, see the MMA Events section of the site.