Former NFL player Greg Hardy made his MMA debut on Saturday night (Nov. 4) and scored a first-round knockout in just 32 seconds.
Fighting in Florida, as part of the “Rise of a Warrior 21” event, Hardy (1-0) was victorious in his amateur heavyweight debut, when he floored fellow amateur Joe Hawkins (0-1), who also made his debut.
The 29-year-old landed a stiff right hand that send Hawkins down early, then followed with a series of punches before the referee jumped in and stopped the fight.
After the fight and one fight under his belt, Hardy said he hopes to eventually make it to the pinnacle of the sport: the UFC. “All the way to the UFC,” he said when asked how far he’d like to go in the sport. “Gonna keep working… today, tomorrow, get back on the grind man. I gotta lot of ground to cover to make sure the mistakes that happened today never happen again.”
“I’m ecstatic. I’ve been humbled a lot in the last two years,” Hardy continued. “I’m just super excited to be able to compete. I’m just super excited to be back in the area. I’m super excited to be back to the Greg Hardy everyone knows and remembers and give back to my fans.”
Hardy’s debut was in front of around 1,700 people at a converted basketball gym at the Havert L. Fenn Events Center, far from the crowds he played in front of in the NFL.
Hardy played in the NFL for six years, during which he recorded 165 tackles and 40 sacks in 75 games. He played one season with Dallas and five seasons with the Carolina Panthers. In 2014, Hardy’s NFL career took a turn for the worse when he was accused of domestic violence and was suspended.
While he says a return to the NFL hasn’t been ruled out, his primary focus is now MMA.