Controversial free agent defensive end Greg Hardy is putting his NFL career on hold in order to pursue a career in mixed martial arts, according to MMAFighting.com.
“I’m very focused and excited to start my MMA career,” Hardy said in a statement to the website. “I’m going to do this the right way, I can assure you of that.”
He has been training for several months and several promotions have already showed interest, despite Hardy not having extensive background in MMA, according to the report.
Hardy, 28, was arrested on Sept. 26 in Richardson, Texas on a cocaine possession charge. He was released from custody on $5,000 bond the next day. He was pulled over for failure to signal a left turn, and a search of his vehicle revealed what police said was cocaine and an item containing marijuana remnants, according to police documents.
He had six sacks in 12 games for the Dallas Cowboys in 2015 after missing the first four games of the season due to a suspension stemming from a domestic violence incident while playing for the Carolina Panthers in 2014.
Though the charges from his 2014 domestic violence case were dropped and Hardy’s record was expunged, Deadspin released photos in November from the night of the incident between Hardy and his ex-girlfriend Nicole Holder that showed bruising to her back, jaw and feet.
In a one-on-one interview with ESPN’s Adam Schefter in April, Hardy said he was an “innocent man” and denied he had ever put his hands on a woman. Of the photos, he said: “Pictures are pictures and they can be made to look like whatever they want to.”
Hardy did not produce the sack total the Cowboys had in mind when they signed him to a one-year deal worth as much as $13.1 million last year. That deal contained no guaranteed money and because of the suspension and failure to reach any of his sack incentives, Hardy earned roughly $8.8 million. He also earned attention off the field. In his first extended public comments after the completion of his suspension he said he would come out “guns blazing” and made inappropriate comments about Brady’s wife.
On at least two occasions, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett had to speak to Hardy about his Twitter feed. Owner and general manager Jerry Jones also had a sit-down meeting with Hardy later in the season. Hardy was a Pro Bowl selection in 2013 when he had a career-best 15 sacks. He has registered 40 sacks in his career.
ESPN Cowboys reporter Todd Archer contributed to this report.