Hardy, the former Carolina Panthers and Dallas Cowboys defensive end, will face Joe Hawkins on Saturday at Rise of a Warrior 21. Speaking ahead of the contest, he revealed he isn't going to put a ceiling on his goals:
"Honestly I would like to be in the UFC and be able to obtain UFC gold," he told TMZ. "…I want to be champion of everything I can be. The world champion, best heavyweight."
Hardy posted the following image on Instagram on Tuesday, suggesting preparations for his first fight are beginning to get serious:
The 29-year-old has a chequered past, as he was found guilty of assaulting and threatening his ex-girlfriend in May 2014.
He was hit with an initial 18-month probation period and a suspended 60-day jail sentence, however, the charges were dropped after the victim of the alleged attack failed to appear in court for an appeal hearing.
Nevertheless, after an investigation by the NFL in April 2015, he was suspended for 10 games initially, though that was eventually reduced to four in July that year. After just one season with the Cowboys, he was released, prompting the move into MMA.
Also speaking to TMZ, Hardy's boxing coach Billy Padden believes the former NFL man can be a success in combat sports, having impressed at the renowned American Top Team gym. "He actually knocked two UFC fighters down in sparring," he said.
The current UFC heavyweight champion is Stipe Miocic, who retained his title with a win over Junior dos Santos in May. Hardy has a long way to go before he even contemplates competing at that level, though.