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Greg Hardy, ex-NFL star once suspended for domestic violence, is pursuing an MMA career

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Controversial former NFL star Greg Hardy, whose domestic violence history led to a league suspension, is training for his MMA debut.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

NFL defensive end Greg Hardy is just 28 years old, stands 6’4” tall, and weighs about 280 pounds. With Hardy currently not with any NFL team (he’s a free agent), it looks as if Hardy will turn his attention away from the gridiron and head for the MMA cage. MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani has the details.

The controversial former Dallas Cowboys defensive end has decided to put his football career on hold to pursue MMA, MMAFighting.com has learned.

Hardy, 28, who does not have an extensive martial arts background, has been training for several months in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and according to his team, several promotions have already expressed interest in signing him.

"I'm very focused and excited to start my MMA career," Hardy said in a statement provided to MMAFighting.com. "I'm going to do this the right way, I can assure you of that."

Hardy was one of the premier pass rushers in the league, recording 11 sacks in 2012, then a career-high 15 in 2013 while with the Carolina Panthers, setting a franchise record in the process. In May 2014, Hardy was arrested on domestic violence charges, after allegedly brutally assaulting his ex-girlfriend, Nicole Holder. The chilling details from his accuser can be read below. (Via TIME Magazine)

“On May 13, 2014, Greg Hardy attacked me in his apartment. Hardy picked me up and threw me into the tile tub area in his bathroom. I have bruises from head to toe, including my head, neck, back, shoulders arms, legs, elbow and feet. Hardy pulled me from the tub by my hair, screaming at me that he was going to kill me, break my arms and other threats that I completely believe. He drug me across the bathroom and out into the bedroom. Hardy choked me with both hands around my throat while I was lying on the floor. Hardy picked me up over his head and threw me onto a couch covered in assault rifles and/or shotguns. I landed on those weapons. Hardy bragged that all of those assault rifles were loaded. Landing on those weapons bruised [my] neck and back. Hardy screamed for his “administrative assistant” (Sammy Curtis) to come into the room and hold me down. Curtis came into the room, grabbed me from behind and held me down. Hardy and Curtis then took me into the living room area. I wasn’t nearly strong or fast enough to escape. I begged them to let me go & I wouldn’t tell anyone what he did. They took me out into the hall, pushed me down & went back inside his apartment. I crawled to the elevator and ran into CMPD (Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department)

In court, the accuser testified: “He looked me in my eyes and he told me he was going to kill me. I was so scared I wanted to die. When he loosened his grip slightly, I said just,`Do it. Kill me.”

A judge found Hardy guilty of assaulting a female and making communicating threats (misdemeanors), and she sentenced him to 18 months probation and a suspended 60-day jail sentence. The case was a highly publicized one, and Hardy controversially started on opening day of the 2014 season. It would be the only game he’d play that year, and his last one for Carolina, as the NFL placed him on the “exempt” list, meaning that while Hardy could still draw a salary, he had to remain away from all team activities.

The NFL suspended Hardy without pay for 10 games in 2015, but Hardy’s actual criminal charges were dismissed upon Hardy’s appeal, as the victim failed to appear in court for a jury trial. The Mecklenburg County (North Carolina) DA “said the woman had settled her civil suit against Hardy.” A few months later, an arbiter reduced the ban to 4 games. Hardy had his charges expunged from his record, and shortly thereafter, Deadspin published police photos of Holder’s injuries.

The Dallas Cowboys signed Hardy to a 1 year, $11.3 million contract in the 2015 offseason, and after serving his ban, he played and started in the remaining 12 games, but was not re-signed this past offseason.

Just two weeks ago, Hardy was arrested on cocaine possession charges, although he claims someone had put it in his wallet.

Hardy’s MMA debut will likely happen in 2017.