Former NFL player Greg Hardy to debut with UFC on Jan. 19 in Brooklyn

Former NFL defensive end Greg Hardy will make his UFC debut in January, according to UFC president Dana White.

Hardy (3-0) will face Allen Crowder (9-3) at UFC Fight Night on Jan. 19 in Brooklyn, New York. Contracts have not yet been signed, but White told ESPN that the heavyweight bout is close to being finalized.

Fighting out of Coconut Creek, Florida, Hardy signed a developmental deal with the UFC immediately after his pro debut, which took place on Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series in June.

The deal allowed Hardy to gain experience outside the UFC. He has won all three of his professional bouts by first-round knockout, which prompted the quick call-up. Hardy was slated to fight on a regional show on Dec. 21 in Florida, but White said the UFC elected to pull him from that event in anticipation of his promotional debut.

Representatives for Hardy did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Crowder, of Mebane, North Carolina, hasn't fought since December 2017. He was scheduled to face Rashad Coulter at UFC 225 in June but was forced to pull out because of injury. Five of his nine wins have come via knockout.

The UFC's decision to sign Hardy was met with some controversy. He was exiled by the NFL in 2015 because of off-the-field issues, including a 2014 conviction in a domestic violence case. The charges were later expunged from his record, when the victim failed to appear in court for a jury trial during his appeal.

White has acknowledged Hardy's past will "follow him for the rest of his life" but is willing to give the former All-Pro defensive lineman a second chance. Through six appearances -- three pro, three amateur -- Hardy has recorded six first-round knockouts.

The Jan. 19 UFC Fight Night will mark the first live event of a five-year deal between the UFC and ESPN. The promotion has not yet announced a main event.

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