Greg Hardy’s Ultimate Fighting Championship debut ended in controversial fashion when he landed an illegal knee on opponent Allen Crowder in the second round, resulting in a disqualification loss.
While a foul is never a satisfying conclusion to a fight, the domestic violence allegations in Hardy’s past led some to speculate that the troubled former NFL star landed the knee intentionally. Hardy immediately disputed that notion during the UFC Brooklyn post-fight press conference.
“He was getting up, it was inexperience in mistiming it, man,” Hardy said. “But I was trying to time it like I had just watched Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone do, like I saw everybody else do, and I thought it was the right thing to do at the time. And it was not. I messed up.”
There remains plenty of skepticism in the MMA community regarding Hardy’s intentions. However, UFC heavyweight Curtis Blaydes is not one of the Hardy doubters. He remembers his formative years in the sport and claims that sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment.
“I don’t think his past transgressions had anything to do with what happened out there in the cage,” Blaydes recently said on the "UFC Unfiltered” podcast. “I think he was super excited, because that was me. When I was an amateur, that was me – just in the cage swinging wildly, hitting guys in the back of the head because you’re just so amped up. It takes time to get used to fighting.”
UFC President Dana White said that Hardy will get another chance to improve upon his Octagon debut. Prior to facing Crowder, the ex-Carolina Panther had dispatched his first three professional foes inside of a minute. Being able to strike a balance between composure and aggression takes time, according to Blaydes, and Hardy simply hasn’t fought enough to accumulate that experience.
“People don’t get you have to be calm yet also hyper-aggressive, which is a hard thing to do. He let aggression get a hold of him.” Blaydes said. “He threw that knee and I think he was expecting his opponent to pop up, and when he didn’t, he couldn’t stop the knee.”
Blaydes will return to action against Justin Willis at UFC Fight Night Nashville on March 23.