There’s a lot said about A-level athletes. Some people believe the charm of MMA is that it is the type of sport that doesn’t require a five-second 40-yard dash, or a two-and-a-half-foot vertical leap as a preliminary qualification.
But as the sport has grown over the years, rivaling the growth rate of any modern sport, athleticism has become more and more important. Physical advantages don’t automatically make someone a world-beater, but they do make training a little easier.
Athletes with better control of their bodies and a higher level of comfort with training in the general sense can translate to MMA more easily. And there are few places to look for A-level athletes with better results than the NFL. That’s why Greg Hardy has had a lot of buzz around him since entering into Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series.
Somewhat of a spiritual successor to The Ultimate Fighter where up and coming talent can be cultivated on a legitimate proving grown, the series has seen some big talents rise. Hardy has been on a roll, and has scored another knockout, bringing his record to 2-0 in the process.
Hardy took on Tebaris Gordon who was 3-0 at the time, and triumphed over him in just 17 seconds. A flurry of punches saw a right hand land on Gordon’s temple, putting a halt to the bout very early in the first round. It’s another testament to Hardy’s power and composure, as well as his continued journey as a mixed martial artist.
Hardy was his own biggest critic, citing a need for even more composure to help him tighten up his game, saying: “I haven’t see the replays yet, but honestly I think I can be more in control. I was kind of in danger a little bit, with my hands low. I feel I can work on that, jitters. I would call it an experience. I’m all about plugging holes my man.”
Hardy’s success shows his talents as a multi-sport athlete, but it does him no favors to bury his controversial past. He was let go from the NFL three years ago, due to personal issues. An assault conviction in 2014 saw charges expunged from Hardy’s record after the victim failed to appear for court. The allegations, which say Hardy put his hands on a woman, are ones he denies vehemently. However, he knows the stigma will follow him forever.
Even White himself noted that Hardy’s issues would likely always be a factor in the public’s perception of him. He’s already faced a callout from top-ten ranked heavyweight Derrick Lewis, as well as plenty of negative feedback from fans. But White says everyone deserves a second chance, and many fight fans seem to feel the same way.
Hardy will likely get some more experience fighting for smaller organizations before he is ready for a UFC debut. But with continued training and the right camp, he could be a force to be reckoned with.