When Rachael Ostovich arrived this week for Saturday’s UFC Fight Night at Barclays Center, there was one person she wanted to speak with — Greg Hardy.
“I figured it would be good to meet him directly,” Ostovich said Thursday. “It wasn’t staged or anything. I just wanted to squash it, whatever there might be happening.”
Both Ostovich and Hardy are set to fight Saturday in Brooklyn, a decision by UFC officials that was met with plenty of scrutiny. Ostovich returns to the cage after she was the victim of an alleged domestic violence attack by her husband, Arnold Berdon, in November. Hardy’s own past domestic violence issues effectively ended his NFL career, leading to an MMA career and UFC debut this weekend against Allen Crowder.
Ostovich had no interest in pulling out of her fight with Paige VanZant, recovering from a broken orbital and other injuries in the time since her alleged assault. She’s been vocal about using her platform to help raise awareness for domestic violence victims, and she believes Hardy can do his part to do the same.
“A lot of the times, the media, they get involved ... I just didn’t want anything in the way of that. I just wanted to make sure to let him know that it’s OK,” Ostovich said.
“Let’s work together and use this to help other people from both sides.”
Ostovich was happy with her decision to seek out Hardy.
“It was great, I felt really good,” Ostovich said. “It’s something that was, it wasn’t bothering me, but it was just something that was on my mind and on my heart that I wanted to go in and be with him and be there for each other.”
Hardy agreed that the conversation was constructive.
“It was awesome, man. She’s an awesome person,” Hardy said. “I got to meet her and talk to her. I’m looking forward to seeing her fight. When you’ve got human beings like that on this earth, things can get better.”
Ostovich wants Hardy to be part of the solution for domestic violence. Hardy says he continues to work on himself, saying he often is haunted and considers himself a “broken man.”
“With me, it’s not about how I feel because feelings will always lead you astray," he said. "It’s about what I’m actually doing and what I’m accomplishing and getting done. From day one when I realized I am who I am and these are my problems and there are things that I need to fix as a human being just in general. I’ve kept that positive moving forward and making sure I’m going to therapy and containing myself and surrounding myself with what I need to get better.”
Hardy said therapy has been key for him in the time since he left the NFL.
“I think it’s something that everybody needs," he said. "No matter who you are or what you are, getting better is an essential part of this world. That’s a problem that we have as human beings, not being able to get better and move on. I love it, I promote it, I enjoy it and I recommend it for everybody.”
Ostovich was glad she got to have the conversation with Hardy, but she’s in town for business. Having recovered from her injuries, the Hawaiian said she’s as healthy as any fighter can be.
“This camp has been a little different from the other camps. Despite the challenges I had to go through and some injuries that I had to overcome, I’m feeling great,” Ostovich said. “No fighter goes in 100 percent and that’s something I just had to tell myself and remind myself when things got hard.”
Ostovich said she expects a veteran performance from VanZant, who returns from a year-long layoff. VanZant said she was concerned for Ostovich when she heard of the alleged incident in November, but she’s grateful the fight will go on.
“At the end of the day, we still have to get in there and fight each other,” VanZant said. “I’m definitely somebody who likes to speak out about standing up for women, being tall and being strong. It’s completely awful that we’re put on a platform where our personal matters are looked through a magnifying glass. I’m sure she didn’t want everything she went through in the public eye, but it is and we have turn it and make it positive and empower people and show people we can go through very, very hard times and still fight.”