Greg Hardy says he's focused on the short-notice fight the UFC just booked him in. But when that's done, he will fight to get his victory back from last weekend.
Hardy said Wednesday on Ariel Helwani's MMA Show that he has decided to appeal the no-contest ruling in his fight with Ben Sosoli at UFC Boston last Friday night. Hardy initially earned a unanimous decision win, but the bout was overturned to a no-contest later in the night by the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission (MSAC) due to Hardy's use of an inhaler in between the second and third rounds.
"I think it's something that we're gonna have to fight out in court and figure it out," said Hardy, a former NFL All-Pro. "The long and short of it is I had no idea [it was against the rules]."
In the corner between the second and third rounds, Hardy could be heard asking a nearby commission inspector if he could use his inhaler. Hardy has said he has asthma. The inspector asked if it was approved medically. Hardy told the inspector that USADA, the UFC's anti-doping partner, approved of it. Hardy's cornerman Din Thomas then got the inhaler and Hardy took two puffs on it before the fight resumed.
The bout commenced, Hardy won on the scorecards, and a few hours later the commission overturned the result to a no-contest.
"The inhaler was not pre-approved by the commission for use during the fight in accordance with the Commission's regulations," MSAC spokesperson Carolyn Assa said in a statement. "Therefore, the commission overturned the win and declared the bout no-contest."
Subsequent requests for comment from the commission have gone unreturned.
Hardy, 31, said he notified the doctor, UFC and USADA about the inhaler. It's unclear whether he meant the UFC's doctor or the commission's ringside physician. Hardy has only been a pro MMA fighter since 2018, after his NFL career. He said he truly did not know the rules of what can and cannot be ingested in the corner during fights.
There is no MSAC rule published online that states anything specific about ingesting anything in between rounds, though it is customary in combat sports that only water or a sports drink can be consumed during fights. Hardy said he's still unclear on why the result was overturned.
"I'm in the middle of figuring it all out," Hardy said. "This is all new to me. As shocking as it may be, Greg Hardy does not know all."
With regards to USADA, what Hardy did probably would not constitute an anti-doping violation. Inhalers are not prohibited. Asthma medication, like albuterol, is prohibited, but only over a certain threshold. Two puffs on an inhaler would almost certainly not put Hardy over such a threshold.
Hardy described the situation as "sad," because he gets paid a win bonus by the UFC and now he has lost that money. Otherwise, he said it was a learning experience for him. Hardy said he doesn't necessarily need the inhaler to perform, but he wanted it because without it he said he has a breathing disadvantage.
"I didn't need it at all," Hardy said. "I wanted to take the inhaler, because I have asthma and I was at a breathing disadvantage. ... When they're telling you [that] you can, you don't want to continue putting yourself at a disadvantage if you don't have to."
Hardy (5-1, 1 NC) was quickly booked into a fight with Alexander Volkov at UFC Moscow on Nov. 9 on Tuesday, just four days after the inhaler incident. Volkov is ranked No. 7 among heavyweights in the world by ESPN and is a considerable jump up in competition for Hardy. The ex-football player said he plans on fighting the top guys in the UFC anyway, so why not now?
"I think it makes perfect sense," Hardy said. "Let's get him in. Let's test my mettle. Let's fight one of the big-time guys."
Regarding the fight with Sosoli and using an inhaler, Hardy said he doesn't regret what he did at all.
"I think I made 100 percent the right decision based upon the knowledge I had," Hardy said.
Hardy last played in the NFL in 2015. He was suspended earlier that year for 10 games after a domestic violence investigation by the league found that Hardy used physical force against a significant other at least four times. An arbiter later reduced the suspension to four games. Hardy was convicted on domestic abuse charges in 2014, but the woman did not appear in court to testify during the appeal and the charges were dropped.
In Hardy's UFC debut back in January, he was disqualified due to an illegal knee to the head of his grounded opponent, Allen Crowder.