Another year in UFC history is almost over and while 2018 has had some tremendous moments – the 25 year anniversary show in November; Daniel Cormier unifying the Heavyweight and Light-Heavyweight titles in July; the biggest fight in company history between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor in October – it’s also had a lot of controversial ones, too.
The UFC and controversy have always gone hand-in-hand at times, but 2018 has seen some particularly noteworthy moments, largely because of the brash style of UFC President Dana White and the involvement of some larger-than-life characters like McGregor and Brock Lesnar.
Here are the 5 most controversial UFC moments of 2018.
#5 UFC signs Greg Hardy
Since its inception in 2017, Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series has become the best path to make it into the UFC.
Up-and-comers like Sean O’Malley, Maycee Barber and Karl Roberson have all come through the show and are now climbing the ranks in the UFC proper.
But the biggest name to come from DWTNCS has also become one of the most controversial fighters in UFC history – without even officially stepping into the Octagon yet.
In April, it was announced that former NFL defensive end Greg Hardy would be making his professional MMA debut on the show after going 3-0 as an amateur.
A former NFL player entering MMA was nothing new – the likes of Brendan Schaub and Matt Mitrione came from similar backgrounds – but Hardy was a far more controversial figure.
The 6’4”, 265lber had been arrested and charged with a serious domestic assault in 2014 and was eventually found guilty, being sentenced to 18 months probation.
However, Hardy appealed the conviction and when the alleged victim failed to appear in court to testify, the charges were dropped despite plenty of evidence against him.
Despite the UFC having a clear ‘Fighter Conduct Policy’ regarding out-of-cage behaviour that could bring disrepute onto the promotion or fighter, the fact that Hardy was never technically convicted meant that he was a-okay in Dana White’s book.
And after two wins on DWTNCS and a further win on the smaller circuit, he’s now been pegged to make his full Octagon debut in January 2019.
Given the show that he’s set to debut on – the UFC’s first show on ESPN – also features a victim of domestic violence in Rachael Ostovich, we can expect this controversy to continue into 2019 – despite Dana White’s protests to the contrary.