Former NFL defensive end Greg Hardy had his first professional MMA fight on June 12, and he has earned a UFC contract as a result of his performance.

Hardy squared off with fellow former NFL defensive end Austen Lane as part of the Season 2 premiere of Dana White’s "Tuesday Night Contender Series." The show, which airs on Tuesdays throughout the summer on the UFC’s streaming service, UFC Fight Pass, sees up-and-coming MMA fighters competing for the chance to earn a UFC [VIDEO] contract in front of the UFC president.

In one of the highlights of the episode, Hardy defeated Lane by knockout in just 58 seconds.

Some have given the UFC and White criticism for the decision to give Hardy a chance, but at a media scrum on June 11, Hardy told USA Today Sports’ MMAJunkie that fight fans should let Hardy introduce himself first.

“...Give me the opportunity that you would give anybody else,” Hardy said. “Look forward to watching me on TV. Come out and enjoy the event — whether it’s to see me get beat up or to see me excel — and then make a decision or make your opinion and I’ll respect it as a human being. That’s honestly where I have to come from on any platform these days because that’s the reality that I have to live in.”

Hardy's football career and controversy

Hardy was drafted in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers. In 2013, he earned Second-Team All-Pro honors and was named to the Pro Bowl. But in May 2014, Hardy was arrested for allegedly assaulting his ex-girlfriend and threatening to kill her.

He was found guilty a few months later, sentenced to 18 months probation and a suspended 60-day jail sentence.

Hardy appealed to have a jury trial, and when the alleged victim did not appear in court and no longer cooperated with authorities, the charges were dropped.

Hardy played one game with the Panthers in the 2014 season before being put on the commissioner’s exempt list due to his off-the-field issues. After he was not re-signed by Carolina, he signed a one-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys but did not play most of the 2015 season because of a 10-game suspension stemming from the controversy. Hardy was not re-signed after the season.

Hardy’s Transition to MMA

Hardy made his amateur MMA debut back in November, scoring a TKO victory in just 32 seconds. He’d score a 96-second win a month later, and a 14-second knockout in February to improve to 3-0.

When White announced that he was interested in giving Hardy a chance at joining the UFC, plenty of criticism came the MMA organization’s way — especially with this signing going on while fellow UFC fighter Nick Diaz is accused of domestic violence.

White defended the decision to TMZ Sports by saying Hardy is a changed man.

“I guess he had a real bad drug and alcohol problem,” White said. “Started to get into MMA. Cleaned himself up. 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. And the guy was never charged with anything, he was never sentenced or anything like that. We’re going to give him a shot.”