There's a societal myth about second chances. Everyone deserves one. That often, when one is received, that person will make the most of it.
But none of that is true. Turn on your television this weekend and you'll see a man step into the Octagon at UFC 249 who deserves no second chances. No sympathy for lost opportunities, for losing an NFL career over a despicable act. Someone who should have been punished severely for a domestic violence incident and then slunk out of the public eye like the slime he showed himself to be.
But Greg Hardy did no such thing after he assaulted and threatened to kill his then-girlfriend Nicole Holder in 2014. The Pro Bowl defensive end was sentenced to probation but appealed the ruling for a trial by jury. But Holder stopped cooperating with the prosecution -- as is often the case when a victim is scared for their life -- and the charges were dropped.
Hardy never played another down for the Carolina Panthers but was signed by the Dallas Cowboys. Hardy was suspended 10 games (later reduced to four) after the NFL found Hardy's actions caused Holder to be "severely traumatized" and that she "sustained a range of injuries, including bruises and scratches on her neck, shoulders, upper chest, back, arms and feet." Hardy also allegedly threw Holder on a bed covered in guns, including six military-style assault weapons and bragged that "all of them were loaded."
Deadspin published photos of the Holder's injuries in Nov. of 2015 and Hardy never played another snap after that season. Instead, he turned to mixed martial arts and the UFC for his "second chance."
Hardy (5-2-0) will fight Yorgan De Castro (6-0-0) on Saturday at UFC 249. Hardy's continued presence in the sporting world is an affront to society at large. His ability to earn a living in the UFC or any other realm in athletics offends the senses and makes the stomach churn.
The hard truth is, some people do deserve second chances. And some people, those like Hardy, who terrorize and assault women and show no remorse for their horrific acts, deserve to be cast aside as a societal pariah.
There is no redemption story to be found at UFC 249, or any other time Hardy steps into the Octagon. He was given an athletic gift and he deserved to have it taken away for the physical and emotional trauma he inflicted.
In the interview she gave to the police following the incident, Holder said Hardy used to tell her "he had people" who would kill her for him and she would oftentimes show up at her house with his acquaintances parked outside her house for no reason.
Hardy's story is not one of tragedy or overcoming adversity. At least, not for him. It's about a gifted athlete who was as vicious and mean off the field as he was on it. Someone whose name recognition allowed him to have a second life in sports.
Every time Hardy gets paid to fight is an insult to the 20 people per minute who are victims of domestic violence and to the countless women who have victimized by people like Hardy.
All second chances aren't created equal. Only the blind and naive believe that. Hardy didn't deserve his, and the UFC should be ashamed it allows him to fight under their logo.