More than a year after announcing his intentions to pursue a career in MMA, former standout NFL defensive end Greg Hardy made his debut in the amateur circuit last weekend in Florida. Hardy quickly stopped 44-year-old heavyweight Joe Hawkins in just 32 seconds, and there is video of the entire fight.
The 29-year-old Hardy, listed at 6’4” and nearly 280 pounds, has not played in the NFL since the 2015 season, and there are no indications that he’ll ever be re-signed. Originally drafted by the Carolina Panthers, Hardy made the Pro Bowl in 2013 and was second-team All-Pro due to his impressive ability to rush after and sack the quarterback. In 2014, Hardy was arrested on domestic violence charges against his ex-girlfriend, and was later found guilty of assaulting a female and making communicating threats. Both offenses were misdemeanors, and he was given a suspended 60-day jail sentence, plus 18 months probation.
Hardy missed almost all of the 2014 season and a handful of games in 2015, as the highly-publicized case went to an appeal. Ultimately, the charges were dismissed and expunged from his record, as the victim failed to appear in court for a jury trial. Disturbing and graphic details from Hardy’s accuser, Nicole Holder, can be read in this TIME magazine piece, while Deadspin published photos of Holder’s injuries.
With his attention now focused on MMA, Hardy spoke to TMZ Sports about his win, and also answered a question about what message he’d have for UFC president Dana White.
“Keep an eye on me,” Hardy said. “I’m all about proving things. Words without work are nothing, so I’m here to prove whatever I need to prove to the whole world. Like I said, [I need to] work on myself to make sure that I’m putting the best foot forward for everybody that I’ve left hanging, or I haven’t left hanging. Everybody that’s watching.”
Hardy is looking at having his second fight in December.