Greg Hardy opened up the main card of UFC 249 in a fight that was competitive up until a mid-fight injury to Yorgan De Castro.
When Greg Hardy announced his intent to pursue a career in MMA after being bounced out of the NFL, many called it an experiment. Now in his second year with the UFC, perhaps it’s time for a report card. To see where that experiment is at.
If that’s the case, so far, you have a solid D student. Put aside his past shortcomings as a human being (if you can, or choose to), and you’ll recognize that Hardy can fight. Not at an elite level, not yet, which is why his career in the UFC has gone the way it has. But the building blocks are there.
The problem is, Hardy rushed out of the gate. Right into a DQ loss to Allen Crowder. Then, after a couple of wins (against an out-matched Dmitry Smolyakov and an emotionally compromised Juan Adams), he ran into trouble again. Still far too underdeveloped to be competing in the UFC, Hardy opted to use an inhaler in a fight against Ben Sosoli at UFC Boston last October. Next thing you know, it’s a no contest, but somehow, Hardy wound up in a fight against Alexander Volkov. Short-notice replacement or not, the former gridiron star had no business being there. It went about as you would expect.
Fighting Yorgan De Castro, with a similar amount of pro fight experience, makes much more sense. Which brings us to UFC 249. De Castro is dangerous, undefeated, with first round finish after first round finish. But still, a better test of Hardy’s skillset.
Yorgan De Castro came out swinging for the fences, but Hardy avoided serious damage. A left hand landed for De Castro, then another combo of wide hooks as Hardy came in. A hard leg kick landed for Hardy, but an overhand right landed for De Castro followed by a leg kick. Hardy had control of the Octagon, but De Castro was striking much more effectively. Hardy landed a few strong shots, but De Castro continued to work with his heavy punches.
De Castro started with a combination and landed another leg kick (as he had throughout the first round). Redness built up on the outside of Hardy’s lead leg. De Castro came up short on a combination and perhaps hurt his foot due to a checked leg kick. De Castro’s output slowed, but Hardy wasn’t doing much to take advantage in the final two minutes.
Hardy cracked De Castro with a right straight to start the final round, which effectively woke De Castro up. De Castro began to throw again, but ate a huge leg kick.from Hardy. Neither man was striking effectively, but the De Castro of the first round was gone more importantly. De Castro slipped during a strike and stayed down with Hardy standing over him. After some time, De Castro stood up but did not strike at all for the final two minutes. A strange fight that was affected by an injury.
Greg Hardy def. Yorgan De Castro by Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)