Greg Hardy knocked out Joe Hawkins 32 seconds into the first round in the former NFL defensive end’s MMA debut, a heavyweight bout on the "Rise of a Warrior 21" card in Fort Pierce, Fla., on Saturday night.
Hardy floored Hawkins with a right hand, then unleashed a series of punches on his opponent, prompting the referee to stop the fight. Hawkins was also competing in his first MMA match.
Here’s video of the knockout:
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) November 5, 2017
"I'm ecstatic. I've been humbled a lot in the last two years," Hardy told ESPN. "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."
We’re not sure getting “back to the Greg Hardy everyone knows” is a good thing, considering he’s been effectively banished from the NFL after being suspended for domestic abuse, underperforming for the Cowboys in 2015 and getting arrested for cocaine possession last year.
Hardy is not ruling out a return to the NFL, but for now is focused on his MMA career. While he fought Saturday night in the ninth of a 13-bout card in front about 1,700 fans in a converted basketball gym, he aspires to reach the top level of the sport.
“All the way to the UFC, man, all the way,” Hardy said Saturday on how far he wants to take his new endeavor. “I'm gonna keep working. I'm going back to the ATT (American Top Team, the MMA gym he trains at) today, work tomorrow, get back on the grind. I've got a lot of ground to cover, make sure mistakes that happened today never happen again.”
Here’s Hardy’s post-fight interview with ESPN: