Former Dallas Cowboy defensive end Greg Hardy was awarded a contract after only one professional MMA fight. The former All-Pro needed just 57 seconds to knockout Austin Lane in his professional debut on Dana White’s Contender Series. If you ask me this is such a publicity stunt that its embarrassing. Let’s look at the facts first. Hardy fought a previously undefeated Lane (2-1) who had only fought in two professional fights. It is ridiculous that you are going to give a guy a UFC contract just because he has potential. I doubt he has any ground game so if he gets knocked down I predict he is going to get rocked.
The biggest thing that infuriates me about this signing is that its pretty much a smack in the face to fighters that have been in actual leagues for years and Dana White never gave them a call. The biggest name that comes to mind is an undefeated welterweight fighter, Ben Askren. Askren was a collegiate wrestler out of the University of Missouri where he racked up an impressive resume. He was a 4x NCAA finalist, a 2x NCAA champion, 2x Hodge Trophy winner (considered the Heisman Trophy of college wrestling), and finished with a career record of 153-8. After college Askren went on to become an Olympian in 2008 being considered a contender going into Beijing, but ultimately failing to medal.
As a fighter, Askren competed in the Bellator Fighting Championship becoming the welterweight world champion and defending his title 4 times. He then went on to fight in Singapore in the ONE Championship. Again he became the welterweight champion and defended his title 3 times. Askren, who is now retired, compiled an undefeated record of 18-0. Of his 18 wins, 6 were by knockout and 5 by submission. If you step in the ring with him, chances are you’re going to sleep.
So why didn’t Askren get the call from Dana White? The two have had a long time feud because of stunts like the Greg Hardy signing. Askren has publicly criticized White for these signings that are clearly publicity moves. Askren has also criticized for his fighting style. He isn’t much of a striker, but I argue that he may have the best ground game in the world. With his stellar wrestling background, if he gets on top of you then you better have a blanket and pillow ready because you’re going to sleep. The fact of the matter is Askren can be boring to watch for fair weather MMA fans. This ultimately has lead to him never getting a UFC contract. This Greg Hardy signing honestly shows how desperate the UFC is to fill the void that Conor McGregor left since he hasn’t been fighting.