We’re about a month away from UFC on ESPN 3, scheduled for April 27th in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The main event is an intriguing five-round middleweight rematch between Yoel Romero and Ronaldo Souza, but the co-main event was a bit of a mystery.
It appears as if we have our answer, and it’s Greg Hardy again.
The disgraced former NFL star is set to face Dmitrii Smoliakov on the card, and his fight is on the official event poster alongside Romero vs. Jacare 2.
Here's the official poster for #UFCFortLauderdale. And if you're wondering, I think it's fair to say that Greg Hardy will get his second co-main event. @mma_kings pic.twitter.com/xooIIsFCXX— Kun Zsolt (@makamazsom) March 26, 2019
If you look at the current bout order through the ESPN website, it too suggests that Hardy vs. Smoliakov is getting co-main event status.
Hardy (3-1) made his UFC debut two months ago against Allen Crowder in the UFC Brooklyn co-main event. He lost by disqualification after landing a clearly illegal knee to the head while Crowder was down. Hardy had won round one on the scorecards but appeared to be losing round two and fading badly at the time of the DQ. It was low-level MMA that had no business on sporting merits of being anywhere near the top of a UFC card.
Much has been made about his place on the UFC roster. He was convicted of assaulting his ex-girlfriend while still in the NFL, although that conviction was expunged from his record when the victim failed to appear in court to testify. Dana White has shot back at critics of the decision to sign Hardy, and he had praise for Greg’s skill level even after the Crowder loss.
Looking to deny Hardy his first UFC win is Smoliakov (9-2), whose last UFC fight was more than two years ago, and he went 0-2 inside the Octagon. Only one of Smoliakov’s wins has come against an opponent with a winning record.
So if you thought Hardy’s lackluster performance would dissuade both the UFC and ESPN from profiling Greg extensively for his next fight, you thought wrong.