Greg Hardy’s attempt to legitimize himself as a Real MMA Fighter took a big step forward Saturday, as the disgraced NFL star convincingly beat a 36-year-old opponent with zero career UFC wins during the co-main event at UFC Fort Lauderdale.
Hardy notched a dominant TKO against Dmitrii “The Lifeguard” Smoliakov with 2:45 remaining in the first round. The fight ended when Hardy got the Russian down on the ground and repeatedly rained blows down upon him until the ref stopped the fight.
In two-plus minutes of fighting, Smoliakov didn’t land a single strike of note and had two takedown events stuffed by Hardy, who held an obvious speed advantage.
Of course, the 36-year-old Smoliakov likely wasn’t booked with the idea of giving Hardy a legitimate challenge in mind. The fight was Smoliakov’s first UFC match since January 2017, and he entered Saturday with an 0-2 record in the promotion.
“Feels amazing, man. I just want to say, thank you Florida, I love y’all. Man, I moved here!” Hardy said after the fight, at which point he was met with loud boos from the Fort Lauderdale crowd.
A vast improvement from Hardy’s last fight
At the very least, Hardy’s camp was looking for a better outcome than his last fight, which ended when Hardy was disqualified for an illegal knee against Allen Crowder, who also entered the fight without a single UFC win in his career.
That likely wasn’t the start UFC had in mind when it signed Hardy, who picked up the sport once he had been chased out of the NFL due to a 2014 domestic violence arrest.
“We wanted to make sure it wasn’t the same as last time,” Hardy said. “Don’t gas out, make the shots count. I feel like I’m just coming to my own. Every day, I’m getting better. Every month, I’m getting more violent, more nasty in the Octagon. More humble and peaceful outside of it.”
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