About Last Night..
Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
Over the weekend (not last night, but last night works better for the title, so don’t hassle me), Greg Hardy made his UFC debut on ESPN+ in the co-main slot against Allen Crowder. We know how it went, losing by DQ due to an illegal knee, so is the Greg Hardy experiment over?
Before getting into the knee itself and going forward, Greg Hardy cannot catch a break. He did an incredibly awful thing (allegedly) which led to getting blacklisted by the NFL, losing the chance to make millions of dollars. So, naturally, he goes into a sport where he beats people up in a cage for money, making football a side job to pay the bills. He shows he has the talent to compete under the bright lights, but with the UFC doing due diligence (as they should in this case), he is forced to fight on DWTNCS twice. He passes those tests, but MMA Twitter was NOT having it. They constantly berated him, unwilling to give a second chance. Many of these same people have been willing to give Jon Jones one, when he (allegedly) did a hit and run on a pregnant lady and testing positive for banned substances on multiple occasions. As we said on the podcast, we are not excusing him for his past, but does that mean he can never get a second chance? Some people assume it was too early, but if the UFC did not sign him, I guarantee a Bellator or ONE would not hesitate to sign a name like Greg Hardy. Another issue I have about people unwilling to offer a second chance are trying to insinuate that MMA is some sort of moral high-ground, or at least the UFC is. Cage fighting for money is far from a morally just sport. The UFC has allowed some awful things along the way, both in and out of the cage. Some of these includes Rampage Jackson’s pummeling of Wanderlei Silva’s unconscious body after the ref called the fight, Rampage’s legal issues outside of the cage, and the whole Conor McGregor incident in New York (coming from a Conor fan), among others. In short, MMA isn’t a place for people of high morals, even in the UFC, so, not dismissing his past, which is awful, I think Hardy could deserve a second chance.
Onto the fight itself. I thought that Hardy showed some real promise against a legitimate MMA practitioner in Allen Crowder. He was far from the can than I thought he would be. Both Hardy and Crowder were not distracted by the bright lights and big stage, and I thought the fight was entertaining. Hardy has Crowder hurt a few times and failed to capitalize, and Crowder pieced Hardy up with some combinations and even landed some takedowns. Hardy showed a lot of resilience, not gassing himself out trying to stand up, using the cage to his advantage. I truly think that he is still a very raw, but promising prospect. Then came the knee.
I personally do not think that the knee was intentional. Hardy himself said it was a poorly-timed knee, and that can partially be seen in the video above. He waits for Crowder to pick up one knee, then he immediately goes in. Maybe he assumed he would try to get on his feet quicker or that one knee on the ground was alright to deliver a knee to the face. I think he was not 100% clear on the rules, and when he saw an opportunity to land the fight-ending shot, which it was, he took it. Crowder has also said he blames inexperience on the knee, and I agree. Of course, Twitter did not share these sentiments and continued to crucify Hardy.
So, not that the dust has settled, what is next for Greg Hardy and the UFC? Dana has already said that Hardy will have another UFC fight, and I think that is a good move. I don’t think that he should be a co-main event on his next card, but rather a prelim main event on ESPN that can draw a lot of eyeballs. I think the Greg Hardy experiment is far from over. He is a legitimately good athlete, he is at a world-class camp in ATT, and he actually cares about his craft and will work hard to get better. He already seems to work harder than Untitled MMA favorite Derrick Lewis, and that’s just how it is. He has a long way to go before challenging for a belt or fighting top contenders, and by all means if he messes up outside of the cage cut him, but I think for now it is time to see what Greg Hardy the mixed martial artist can do.
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