Say what you will about Greg Hardy the man, Greg Hardy the fighter just made the statement of his young MMA career.
Hardy, the former NFL star defensive end, probably punched his ticket to the UFC with an emphatic TKO victory over fellow ex-NFL player Austen Lane on Tuesday night at Dana White’s Contender Series 9.
The event took place at The Ultimate Fighter Gym and streamed live on UFC Fight Pass.
Hardy came out throwing heavy hands early, but Lane responded, leading to a brief exchange between the two big men. An eye poke by Hardy just 25 seconds in forced a brief stoppage.
When they returned to action, Lane landed a solid two-punch combination that Hardy ate well. Moments later, the fight was over when Hardy landed a huge right hook across the chin that dropped Lane to one knee. He bounced back up only to eat a left that put him down for good, forcing the referee to stop the fight at the 57-second mark of Round 1.
It was Hardy’s first MMA fight as a professional. He’d had just three amateur bouts since November, with none of them exiting the first round.
Hardy landing a spot on the Contender Series was met with controversy given his checkered past. He was convicted for assaulting his ex-girlfriend in July 2014, only to have the charges dropped after the alleged victim refused to testify in his appeal.
UFC President Dana White said before the Contender Series that Hardy was a different person deserving of a second chance.
“He went through everything, the whole legal process, went back to football,” White said after UFC 225 on Saturday. “… I guess he had a real bad drug and alcohol problem, started getting into MMA, cleaned himself up.
“If you talk to anybody that he trains with, male or female, they say he’s a very good guy, he’s very humble – and everybody deserves a second chance.”
White reacted to Hardy’s knockout on the Contender Series by letting an “Oh (expletive)!” and jumping out of his seat, a good indicator he’s getting a UFC contract.