What’s next for UFC heavyweight prospect Greg Hardy?
Former Carolina Panther and Dallas Cowboy Greg Hardy has really started to find success in his new career. He was successful at the start, but he’s very clearly improving steadily, he looks better every time we see him.
After going 3-0 as an amateur with all three victories via first-round knockout, he did the same as a professional, securing three-straight first-round knockouts before being called up to the big show.
Two of those victories came on the Contender Series, one of which was over fellow former NFL star Austen Lane, who was 4-0 himself with all of his wins coming via knockout in round one. That was Hardy’s debut opponent.
His debut opponent in the UFC was the 9-3 Allen Crowder, who he ended up getting disqualified against in the middle of round two.
He kneed Crowder to his face while he was considered a downed opponent, and the fight was stopped. It was the co-main event to Henry Cejudo versus TJ Dillashaw though, and it was his UFC debut.
He hasn’t made the same mistake since, and he got right back on track in his next two fights, securing first-round knockouts in each of them, one against the 9-2 Dmitry Smolyakov, and the other against the 5-1 Juan Adams.
Hardy then fought the 7-2 Ben Sosoli, and defeated him via unanimous decision, though it was overturned to a no contest because he used his asthma inhaler between the second and third round.
Hardy then stepped up to face Alexander Volkov on two weeks notice when Junior dos Santos pulled out, a fight he had to travel to Moscow, Russia in order to participate in it.
He was just 5-1 (1 NC), and Volkov was 30-7. Not only that, but Volkov is the former heavyweight champion in both Bellator and M-1 Global, he’s a seriously elite heavyweight, one of the best in the entire world. He was out-struck throughout the fight and ultimately lost it via unanimous decision.
Hardy’s composure in that fight was incredible. He didn’t get discouraged, he was in it the whole time, he just didn’t have the experience to beat someone like that. Can we blame him? What kind of fighter even takes a fight against a near 40-fight veteran and multiple-time world champion when they only have seven fights? ‘The Prince of War’.
In his last two fights, he defeated the 6-0 Yorgan De Castro via unanimous decision and now the 9-4 Maurice Greene by knockout. De Castro is a good striker, and Hardy was able to use his striking to out-point him throughout that fight, and his Greene fight showed his first knockout win that didn’t come in round one.
We see he’s evolving beautifully, as he should be, he’s one of the best athletes on the planet. He’s learning to carry his power past round one. Greene is a good fighter, he’s good on the ground and on the feet, and Hardy dominated both areas of the fight, up until he got the TKO finish at 1:12 of round two.
Hardy’s first six fights, amateur and professional, didn’t go past round one. Then his seventh total fight went into round two where he was disqualified, and his next two were stopped in round one. He then went the full 15 minutes in his next three fights, a surprise to most, until Saturday. It’s a beautiful thing seeing someone evolve this rapidly.
Now that we’ve gotten to see him a few times and we see him getting better, what’s next for Greg Hardy? A ranked opponent sounds necessary for him, a lower ranked top 15 opponent makes perfect sense.
The No. 14 ranked Blagoy Ivanov versus Greg Hardy would be very interesting to see. Ivanov is not a big heavyweight. He’s just 5’11” with a 73” reach, as opposed to Hardy being 6’5” with an 80” reach, but he has the ability to beat Hardy, and likewise.
Ivanov is about as solid on the mat as the come for a heavyweight, and his hip tosses and throws are as good as the get, that’s something Hardy would have to watch out for. Because, if Hardy got taken down by Ivanov, it’d be hard to get back up, let alone keep from being submitted.
The same goes for Hardy, who isn’t say better on the feet yet, but he’s a lot rangier, and a lot more powerful. Ivanov’s punches are very loopy, and he’s there to be hit, the whole time. That’d be a great fight to see where Hardy’s at. Not to mention, Ivanov’s a five-time WSOF Heavyweight Champion, it’d be a nice feather in his cap.
The winner of the No. 7 ranked Junior dos Santos versus the No. 13 Ciryl Gane would be very interesting too. On one hand, we have dos Santos, the former two-time UFC Heavyweight Champion, and one of the best boxers in the sport.
He’s been giving up some size recently though, he’s not as big as he used to be. Honestly, a move to 205 lbs would fit dos Santos well.
However, if he defeats Gane, that’d be a huge test for Hardy. And if Gane wins, that’s a good test too. Gane went 13-0 in professional kickboxing, and we know that’d be a stand up affair, that’d be loads of fun to watch.
Lastly, is a match up with the No. 10 Aleksei Oleinik, one of the most dangerous grapplers in all of MMA.
Oleinik is as savvy with his submissions as anyone we’ve ever seen, and not just the average submissions we’re used to seeing, but scarf holds, Ezekiel chokes, and neck cranks, as well as the average submissions we’re used to seeing.
Hardy would have to keep the fight on the feet in order to win this one as well. He certainly has the power to stop Oleinik, should he be able to catch him, but Oleinik definitely has the skill to get the fight to the mat and get the tap. That’s what he does.
Whatever ends up being next for Hardy, win or lose, love him or hate him, we’ll all be tuning in.
What’s next for UFC heavyweight prospect Greg Hardy?
I became a fan of combat sports when I was 12 years old. I was scrolling through the channels and landed upon versus, where WEC was televised. Urijah Faber fought Jens Pulver for the second time that night. That’s the first fight I saw, and the fight that got me hooked on the sport. Since then, the sport has grown so rapidly, and my goal is to enlighten everyone on what’s going on in the sport today.