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Opinion | Rachael Ostovich sharing spotlight with Greg Hardy is unthinkable

News of ex-NFL player Greg Hardy being placed on the same card as Rachael Ostovich, a domestic violence survivor, has many people up in arms over the UFC's decision.

Last night, news broke that a fight between Greg Hardy and Allen Crowder is being finalized for the first UFC on ESPN+ card in Brooklyn, New York on January 19.

Immediately, the MMA community erupted with backlash against the placement of the match.

On that very same card, we will also be getting a contest between flyweight prospects Rachael Ostovich and Paige VanZant. The fight was briefly called off due to Ostovich being hospitalized due to injuries sustained after allegedly being attacked by her husband and fellow MMA fighter, Arnold Berdon. After seeking a second opinion for her injuries, Ostovich was medically cleared and the fight was put back on the ESPN+ card.

Since being attacked, Ostovich has been using her platform to actively speak out against domestic violence.

Placing Hardy on the same card as Ostovich for his UFC debut has brought a great deal of discussion among fans about fighters with a history of domestic violence, and their place in the sport. The UFC’s decision to sign Hardy was controversial enough, but to put him on the same card as a survivor of domestic abuse speaks volumes to how tone-deaf they are on the subject. 

A large portion of Greg Hardy’s sympathizers and supporters have made countless arguments about his right to a “second chance”.

At the UFC 225 post-fight press conference, UFC President Dana White defended Hardy, stating “If you talk to anybody he trains with, male or female, they say that he’s a very good guy. He’s very humble. Everybody deserves a second chance”.

It seems as though many of the individuals who make the “second chance” argument don’t seem to know what it means for an assailant to actually go through the process of rehabilitation.

For those who don’t know me personally, I have a background in Social Work, Mental Health & Addictions, Community Health, International Community Development, and Autism & Behavioural Science.

In my field of work, not only am I obligated to support individuals who are survivors of domestic violence, but it is also my obligation to work with offenders if they decide to rehabilitate. It is not an easy task to take on, but it is expected.

For the attackers, rehabilitation typically includes taking ownership of their actions, showing and expressing remorse, seeking and participating in cognitive-behavioral therapy, long-term individual counseling, and extensive anger management programs. These interventions, in unison, are essential to reducing recidivism in domestic violence offenders.

That being said, I don’t believe Greg Hardy has made any effort to rehabilitate. He has shown no remorse and taken no responsibility for his actions despite having been found guilty of assault and communicating threats.

Some fans vehemently believe what fighters do in their personal lives should not impact their ability to fight. Others believe that fighters with a history of domestic violence shouldn’t be allowed to fight. Then there are a few fans who want to see him fight just so that they can see him take a beating.

I take the position that fighters with a history of domestic abuse should not be allowed to represent the sport, especially above many more deserving fighters. I also don’t take pleasure in seeing them lose fights, because at the end of the day they are still given a worldwide platform to exploit and make a profit off of. They still have young and impressionable fans idolizing them. They still send the message that their actions are without consequence. 

It’s also fairly common to see fans asking for Hardy to be matched up against Derrick Lewis since Lewis has been outspoken about giving abusers a taste of their own medicine. The way I see it, you’re just rewarding his misconduct with a big fight. I don’t see the long-term benefit in that. What I do see a benefit in, is exiling perpetrators of domestic abuse from the sport. That gives me more satisfaction than seeing him take a beating. 

We have a number of fighters who act as great ambassadors of the sport that don’t have a toxic history of domestic or sexual assault, yet for some reason, organizations and fans find it difficult to let those fighters go.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Phone: 1-800-799-7233

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