Ben Sosoli not thinking about Greg Hardy’s past ahead of UFC Boston

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Ben Sosoli is the second biggest underdog on Friday’s card for his UFC debut, but he’s got a rational way of thinking about his opponent.

Sosoli (7-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC), from Australia, takes on Greg Hardy (5-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) on the UFC on ESPN 6 main card at TD Garden in Boston. The ESPN2-televised fight is one of a couple lightning-rod fights on the show – but not because of Sosoli.

Hardy, more than a 3-1 favorite in the heavyweight fight, likely will forever be a source of controversy when he fights. The former NFL standout has a past that checkered with legal issues and domestic violence accusations. But in the UFC, he’s been given a second chance in his athletic life.

But Sosoli isn’t thinking much about that part of Hardy’s story. He said from an athletic standpoint, he has no choice but to give credit where it’s due.

“Coming from one top area of your sport and transitioning over successfully so far – it’s hard to make it in one big sport,” Sosoli said at a Wednesday media day in support of the card. “I’ve struggled my whole life just to be in the UFC, and he’s already played in the NFL and fought in the UFC. You’ve got to give him props – he’s very athletic.”

But just because Hardy is athletic doesn’t mean Sosoli doesn’t see areas in which he can find success when the cage door closes. And while Sosoli only has three more pro MMA fights than Hardy, he’s hoping his experience as a boxer, as well as big opportunities on “The Ultimate Fighter” and Dana White’s Contender Series will help him along.

“He hasn’t fought for that long, so he’s still got a lot to build up,” Sosoli said. “But when you’re that talented and athletic, you can make up for holes until you come across people that are more well-rounded. I’ve obviously got a lot more fighting experience, but he’s just got that freak athleticism.

“It means a lot to me that (UFC president) Dana White is still giving me chances. But at the end of the day, he knows from seeing me on ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ and (Dana White’s Contender Series) … at the end of the day, I just want to get in a fight. I just love fighting. I don’t care what happens in the cage or in the ring. I just want to go there and get hit and hit people, and it’s always good to have people like that in organizations.”

Coached by 10-time UFC fighter and four-time judo Olympian Daniel Kelly, Sosoli said he has the right people around him to help make his transition to the UFC a smooth one.

And even though he’s coming from Australia to fight an American in the States, which might normally be cause to consider himself in hostile territory, the tepid response many fans have toward Hardy because of his past might have Sosoli feeling a little more at home than he might otherwise expect.

“I’m lucky because I’ve got a crew that have had a lot of fights in the UFC,” he said. “Everyone kind of let me know what to expect and what’s going to happen. It’s all been going as I’ve been told, and I’ve just been enjoying it.”

To hear more from Sosoli ahead of his UFC debut against Hardy, check out the video above.



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