Four fights into his UFC career, former NFL star Greg Hardy continues to find himself at the center of controversy.
A heavyweight bout between Hardy (5-1) and Ben Sosoli (7-2) ended in a no-contest Friday at UFC Fight Night in Boston because of Hardy's unapproved use of an inhaler between the second and third rounds of the three-round bout. The fight was initially ruled a unanimous decision win for Hardy but was quickly overturned to a no-contest by the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission.
Hardy's coach provided him the inhaler prior to the third round. Hardy asked an MSAC inspector whether he was allowed to use it and then did so after the inspector asked, "Is it medically approved?" MSAC later ruled against Hardy's use of the inhaler, even though UFC's anti-doping partner, the United States Anti-Doping Agency, allows the use of certain inhalers in sport.
"The Massachusetts State Athletic Commission (MSAC) was made aware of Greg Hardy's use of an inhaler just before the start of the third round of last night's fight," the MSAC said in a statement. "The inhaler was not pre-approved by the Commission for use during the fight in accordance with the Commission's regulations. Therefore, the Commission overturned the win and declared the bout No Contest."
The MSAC will address the matter during a meeting scheduled for Oct. 31.
"I was in the ring, me and my coach asked the commission if it would be OK to use my inhaler, and they said yes, so I took it," Hardy said. "I'm still a new guy in this sport. I did what I do in every situation. I asked permission, I got permission, and I did what I was told."
Hardy said the inhaler is for exercise-induced asthma, which he has had his whole life, and that he uses the inhaler every day, although he had never used it during a fight. His inhaler use was noted on his USADA and MSAC paperwork, he said.
"It doesn't help me breathe better. It helps me breathe just like you, pretty much evens the playing field," Hardy said.
UFC president Dana White said he could understand how it happened but that Hardy's corner should have known better.
"It shouldn't even be a question," White said.
Asked whether he would attempt to get the MSAC ruling overturned, Hardy said, "I'm really just worried about what my boss thinks. The worst part for me is here I am letting people down again."
This is the second time in only four UFC fights that Hardy's inexperience has shown. He suffered the first loss of his career in January in New York, when he knocked out Allen Crowder with an illegal knee. Hardy, 31, has been fighting professionally since only 2018 and came into UFC with just three fights of experience.
Prior to the inhaler issue, Hardy showed a much more measured pace than his previous fights. Going into Friday, all but one of his pro fights had ended in the first round. Friday marked the first time Hardy went the distance in a bout. His endurance did look compromised in the final round.
"I said before the fight that I wanted to go out and put on a showcase and show the leaps and bounds that I've improved by," Hardy said. "It was all about going the 15 minutes, showing some different weapons and not making so many rookie mistakes and just getting jabbed in the face. It was a [coach] Din Thomas showcase. I have a lot of weapons and a gas tank to use those consistently over all three rounds. Right now we're going back to the gym, put it together and let my team make the next decision."
Hardy, who trains out of South Florida, outlanded Sosoli, who is from Australia, 54-26 in total strikes. Sosoli turned up his aggression late, but it wasn't enough to come back from a two-round hole. Hardy also threw several head kicks in the contest, which was a new wrinkle to his game.
Hardy's emergence as a mixed martial arts prospect and UFC fighter has been well documented this year, as he has stepped back into the spotlight after being exiled from the NFL. Hardy was convicted of domestic violence in 2014, before charges were expunged from his record.