Former NFL Pro Bowler Greg Hardy can now add a UFC win to his list of athletic achievements.
Making the most of his co-main event opportunity at UFC Fort Lauderdale, the 30-year-old showed off the athleticism and raw power that have him pegged as a promising heavyweight talent. He needed just 2:15 to put away Dmitrii Smoliakov (9-3) and bounce back from his disastrous UFC debut in January.
From the outset, Hardy’s speed advantage was obvious and Smoliakov did his best to keep his distance. It was only a matter of time until Hardy cut him off and landed a series of uppercuts that left Smoliakov covering up on his back. Hardy rained down hammer fists from top position, not letting up until referee Keith Peterson jumped in for the save.
The finish was a stark contrast to Hardy’s first UFC fight, which ended in a disqualification when Hardy threw a blatantly illegal knee at Allen Crowder at UFC Brooklyn. This time, he looked more like the fighter who started his pro career with three fast knockouts.
Post-fight, Hardy (4-1) spoke of what it was like to win in the Octagon and what was different from his last appearance.
“It felt amazing,” Hardy said. “I didn’t get lost in it this time. I knew my purpose, I came out, I executed, and I listened to my coaching.”
“We wanted to make sure it wasn’t the same as last time,” he continued. “Don’t gas out, make the shots count, and I feel like I’m just coming into 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. I’m just coming into my own. I love this sport, I love these people.”