Greg Hardy’s UFC career has been off to a rocky start.
The controversial former NFL star was rocketing up the MMA ranks, having won his first six fights by way of knockout and only one of those went beyond the first minute of the fight.
Fast forward to Hardy’s first UFC bout, where he was midway through the second round of a tough battle with Allen Crowder before he launched a knee to the side of Crowder’s head that ended the fight. The only problem with that was that Crowder’s knees were on the canvas, making him a downed opponent.
With Crowder unable to continue, Hardy was disqualified.
That was a damaging blow to Hardy, who was already under the microscope because of a past that includes having been arrested for domestic violence.
Greg Hardy wins his first UFC fight
Hardy finally got his second shot in the UFC on Saturday night, where he made the most of the opportunity and dismantled his opponent, Dmitrii Smoliakov, leading to another first-round knockout.
The former NFL player showed tremendous growth in his game, if merely by his patience, as he fended off takedown attempts and was much more judicious about picking his shots than in the past.
UFC president Dana White, however, was agitated by Smoliakov’s performance, particularly since he had a 9-2 record coming into the fight. He felt it was so bad that it might have looked to fans or some members of the media as if the UFC was handpicking Hardy’s opponent simply to get him an easy win.
Dana White rips on Hardy’s opponent and the match-up
“I’m not gonna say that I loved that fight. I’ve been doing this for 20 years. We don’t do set-up fights for anybody,” said White at the post-fight press conference. “If I was a fan, and probably some of the media the way some of the media acts, I would think I don’t know who the f— that guy beat in nine fights, but I’d like to find out the nine guys he beat.”
The nine guys Smoliakov defeated were all at events in Russia and the Ukraine. His two previous losses were Luis Henrique and Cyril Asker under the UFC banner.
That being said, White went out of his way to say that he didn’t blame Hardy for Smoliakov’s lackluster performance, but pointed the finger at himself and his matchmaking team.
“Not to take anything away from Hardy. Hardy came in in great shape. Hardy doesn’t make fights. Me and my guys do. Hardy came in in better shape and he did what he had to do. He treated that guy like he was supposed to,” White continued.
“A guy’s record is 9-2; I wanna see the nine guys he beat. You know what I mean? They might be in this room right now, actually.”
Although White gave Hardy his due, it doesn’t make it any easier for him to overcome the cloud hanging over his career for White to be so heavily critical of his opponent and the match-up.
Hardy’s record now stands at 4-1 as a professional and 3-0 as an amateur, so he is still fairly green when it comes to mixed martial arts experience. But with White being so critical of his opposition, it’s likely that Hardy is going to get a much more stern test in his next bout.