Former NFL defensive end Greg Hardy made his Octagon debut on Saturday in the UFC Brooklyn co-main event against Allen Crowder. After putting together three knockout wins in his first three mixed martial arts fights, Hardy hoped to insert himself in the UFC heavyweight landscape.
The 30-year old turned to fighting after a checkered past that includes domestic violence charges and drug possession. He appeared twice on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series and impressed witch his speed and knockout power.
On Saturday, Crowder put the former NFL player in unfamiliar territory inside the cage. He took Hardy down after catching a knee to the body in the opening round. He controlled Hardy on the ground. He advanced to side control and moved to the crucifix position forcing Hardy to roll. Hardy got back to his feet but found himself having to escape a guillotine choke.
In the second frame, Crowder taunted Hardy after taking some punches in the early going to the round. He rushed forward with a flurry of punches and quickly looked to get Hardy back to the ground. Hardy sprawled and defended the takedown attempt. While Crowder was grounded, Hardy delivered an illegal knee that landed on the side of Crowder’s head. Crowder fell over to his back and the referee immediately stepped in.
The illegal strike rendered Crowder unable to continue and Hardy was disqualified. Hardy not only suffered the first loss of his young fighting career, he’ll now face the court of public opinion again. Whether the illegal knee was a product of inexperience of intentional only Hardy knows.