UFC president Dana White says the promotion consulted female flyweight Rachael Ostovich, the victim of a recent domestic violence assault, prior to booking heavyweight Greg Hardy to fight on the same card next month.
"Having her support was a key factor in making that decision," White told TSN on Thursday.
Ostovich, of Honolulu, is scheduled to fight Paige VanZant at UFC Fight Night on Jan. 19 in Brooklyn, New York. Ostovich was hospitalized last month because of a broken orbital bone after an alleged attack by her husband, MMA fighter Arnold Berdon, who has been charged with second-degree assault. The case is still pending.
Earlier this week, ESPN reported the UFC was close to finalizing a bout for Hardy (3-0) during the same event. The news was met with some criticism. Hardy, a former NFL defensive lineman, was charged with domestic violence in 2014, when he played for the Carolina Panthers.
White said he spoke to Ostovich before moving forward with Hardy, who will be making his UFC debut.
"I called Rachael Ostovich and talked to her, walked her through the situation," White said. "Her take was, 'His story isn't my story. Everybody's story is different. I believe in second chances. I have no problem fighting on the same card as this guy.'
"He didn't have anything to do with Rachael Ostovich, so she was totally cool with it."
Ostovich (4-4) declined an interview request by ESPN, saying she wishes to "move forward."
She has publicly stated she wants to stay on the card and make a stand against domestic abuse.
"Rachael was off the card because of what happened, then she called me back," White said. "[At first] I wasn't letting her fight after what happened. There's no way she could fight. She needs to take some time off.
"But she called me and gave me 75 reasons why she needs to be on this card, and I agreed with her."
The Jan. 19 UFC Fight Night will mark the first event of a five-year, $1.5 billion deal between the UFC and ESPN. Per company policy, ESPN does not issue an official comment on the decisions of a business partner. UFC controls matchmaking under the terms of the new deal.