LAS VEGAS — Ex-NFL player Greg Hardy scored a first-round knockout in his professional MMA debut on Tuesday, with UFC president Dana White looking on from the front row.
Hardy, 29, knocked out Austen Lane (2-0) in just 57 seconds. The heavyweight bout took place on the “Dana White Tuesday Night Contender Series.” UFC officials will announce shortly whether Hardy will be offered a full contract.
Hardy, of Millington, Tennessee, dropped Lane to his knee with a straight right hand. Lane, a former NFL player himself, immediately popped to his feet, only to eat a follow-up left hook that ended the fight.
Fighting out of American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida, Hardy went 3-0 as an amateur, prior to Tuesday’s professional debut. He went 3-0 on the amateur scene, with three first-round knockouts.
The UFC’s decision to offer Hardy an opportunity on the “Contender Series” has been met with some criticism because of Hardy’s past. He was exiled from the NFL in 2015 because of off-the-field legal issues involving domestic violence and drug possession.
Hardy was convicted of domestic violence in 2014, but the charges were later expunged from his record after the victim failed to appear in court for a jury trial. Hardy has denied ever hitting a woman.
In an interview Friday, Hardy referred to White as “an angel” for giving him an opportunity. White has stated Hardy has turned his life around and deserves a second chance.
Hardy is a former All-Pro defensive lineman, who played for the Carolina Panthers and Dallas Cowboys.
Lane (2-1) suffers the first loss of his pro career. He was drafted by the Jackson Jaguars in 2010 and left the league in 2014.