The UFC ESPN-era is set to begin in just days this Saturday night in Brooklyn.
It starts off with a bang as current Bantamweight champ, T.J. Dillashaw, heads down to the Flyweight division to face the current champ Henry Cejudo. The win would put Dillashaw in a very special club as he would join Conor McGregor, Daniel Cormier and Amanda Nunes as the fourth ever simultaneous, two-division champion, or better known as “Champ Champ” in the UFC.
While these two will gain most of the media coverage leading up to Saturday, the one person we have yet to hear from is fighting in the co-main event.
Former NFL defensive end, Greg Hardy is scheduled to fight Allen Crowder in a 3-round-heavyweight fight to co-main the first ever UFC on ESPN+. If you know of Hardy, you clearly know the negativity that follows him around. That being said, what do we expect to see out of Hardy in the cage?
Over the past two plus years, the 6’4-265-pound, 30 year-old has been training with American Top Team and former UFC vet Din Thomas. In 3 pro fights, Hardy has gone 3-0 with three knockouts. He has not faced much adversity as his opponents have combined for 1 takedown attempt which went unsuccessful. All three fights have ended in the 1stround as Hardy’s knockout punching power is clear. While his power can’t be questioned, what can be is whether or not he has truly been tested in the cage.
His opponents combined record was 8-1 going into their respective fight with Hardy, but in a much smaller lesser level of competition. The UFC is known for bringing the best of the best and will certainly give Hardy his toughest challenge to date.
His challenger is the much slimmer, 29-year-old, 6’3-237-pounder from Mebane, North Carolina. Crowder holds a pro fight record of 9-3-1. He has trained with the likes of Cormier and Cain Velasquez. While there is not much footage from Crowder’s pro fights, he has shown the ability to take his opponents to the ground when necessary. The odds are not in Crowder’s favor, literally speaking. As of Monday Hardy is sitting as a heavy favorite at -550 according to the Action Network https://www.actionnetwork.com/mma/ufc-fight-night-143-betting-odds-dilla....
The test will be how long can Crowder stand with Hardy. Joe Rogan noted at UFC 218 when Crowder lost to Justin Willis by first round KO, that Crowder could easily be a light-heavy-weight. That does not bold well as Hardy will probably step in the cage weighing closer to 280 lbs.
The only real path for Crowder to become victorious is to avoid any real damage and make the fight go as long as possible. If he can wear Hardy down and get him to the ground Crowder will have an opportunity for a ground and pound attack, but that is a much easier said than done.
The UFC seems to think they have a rising star in Hardy. Can Hardy put all the negative attention aside? Let’s see what happens this Saturday night, when the cage door closes and the spotlight is back on him. The world will be watching.