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The UFC went out on a limb when it infamously brought in Greg Hardy as a fighter. That limb was soon put in the wood chipper about seven minutes into the former NFL star’s first fight with the promotion.
With 2:28 remaining in the second round of Hardy’s fight against Allen Crowder at UFC Fight Night 143 in Brooklyn, Hardy struck Crowder with a vicious knee to the head while his opponent was on his knees. That illegal hit caused the ref to immediately stop to the fight, disqualifying Hardy and declaring Crowder the winner.
Greg Hardy's UFC career: 1 DQ pic.twitter.com/hJH7CFfUEz
— Joey Hayden (@_joeyhayden) January 20, 2019
The crowd clearly was not happy with Hardy, chanting “a–hole” at the fighter immediately after the knee.
Of course, the misstep didn’t exactly spoil a masterful performance from Hardy during the fight. Crowder repeatedly taunted Hardy and managed to take the heavyweight down for the first time in his MMA career.
— UFC (@ufc) January 20, 2019
That loss brings Hardy’s professional MMA record to 3-1, and his UFC record starts out as 0-1.
Not what the UFC wanted for Greg Hardy’s debut
That ending probably wasn’t what Dana White had in mind when he added Hardy to the UFC’s program. Crowder was likely picked for the co-main event as a beatable opponent for Hardy, who is still clearly trying to get up to speed as a mixed martial artist at 30 years old. Hardy was a massive -500 favorite at multiple sportsbooks heading into the fight.
Instead of further inflating Hardy’s record and attempting to legitimize an athlete chased out of the NFL for a 2014 domestic violence arrest as a serious figure in the UFC heavyweight scene, the promotion will now face further questions if it ever wants to give Hardy another fight.
Greg Hardy: ‘I’m not a cheater’
Despite being disqualified for about as illegal a strike you will ever see in the UFC, Hardy held up his football record as proof that he is not a cheater at heart.
Greg Hardy: "I'm not a cheater. Go ask Tom Brady if I ever cheated all the times I sacked him. 30 years of life, never once have I cheated." #UFCBrooklyn
— Mike Bohn (@MikeBohnMMA) January 20, 2019
Hardy faced plenty of scrutiny heading into fight
The UFC certainly knew it would encounter criticism for signing Hardy, the former Carolina Panthers and Dallas Cowboys defensive end, but even the scheduling for his first fight created bad headlines when it was revealed he would be on the same card as a domestic violence survivor.
Despite widespread condemnation, the UFC and Hardy powered on, with Hardy saying his goal was to be the greatest heavyweight of all time across all combat sports:
“My personality as an athlete is, I believe I can do anything when I put my full heart, mind and soul into it,” explained Hardy, who said former UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk was among his ATT teammates who proved helpful to him in learning MMA. “This is something that will allow me to compete again and get me back to that same kind of feeling and same kind of norm that I had when I was competing in football.
“The media and controversy and athletics go hand-in-hand, and I understand that. There was going to be an issue about me regardless, but my focus is not at risk. I’m a prime, top athlete and I’m able to focus through intense and hostile situations.”
Apparently, that focus lapsed for at least one moment.
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