"I'm gonna be incredible," he said, per TMZ Sports, adding, "I see the referee raising my hand."
Hawkins, who is also making his professional fighting debut, told TMZ his goal is to fight in the UFC one day.
Hardy, 29, last played in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys in 2015. While he was a talented player, registering 40 sacks in his six-year career, the NFL suspended him for four games in the 2015 season for domestic assault. Hardy had been convicted of the crime but the charges were dropped after Hardy's ex-girlfriend, Nicole Holder, stopped cooperating with prosecutors.
He was also arrested in September 2016 on charges of cocaine possession.
According to Brett Okamoto of ESPN.com, Hardy began MMA training in 2016.
"I have a lot of different issues that I'm definitely working through and working on," Hardy told MMAFighting.com (h/t Okamoto). "I would say [training MMA] helps me channel everything. It helps me just come back down to earth, be humble, because these are machines that I see every day.
"I get choked out, punched in the face and laid out on the mat daily, and that's not something that a guy my size and my stature with my history has ever come across."
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