Greg Hardy is headed to the big leagues.
The UFC signed Hardy, a former NFL player with a controversial history, after his successful pro debut on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. Hardy knocked out fellow ex-football player Austen Lane in under a minute.
Hardy’s pro debut took place on the first episode of Season 2 of the UFC Fight Pass-streamed series. The event occurred at the TUF Gym in Las Vegas and was headlined by a first-round win from Alonzo Menifield.
“It’s exciting,” Hardy said of his signing. “It’s everything I could ask for.”
UFC president Dana White said after announcing Hardy’s signing that Hardy needs more experience, but that he likely won’t have to take any more fights outside the promotion.
“We’ll figure out how to do that,” White said. “We’ve done this before.”
Hardy was 3-0 as an amateur heavyweight before moving pro. He made his MMA debut after a transition from football in November 2017. Before Tuesday, his most recent bout was at LFA 33.
Hardy may be an athletic fighter with much to add to the UFC’s heavyweight division, but much controversy is attached to his name. In 2014, the American Top Team product was found guilty of assaulting his ex-girlfriend, as well as making communicating threats towards her. Those charges, both misdemeanors, were dismissed and expunged from his record after the victim did not appear in court for a jury trial. Hardy also was arrested for possession of cocaine in 2016, a year after his most recent season in the NFL.
Nonetheless, Hardy did show some promise in his pro debut. All four of his MMA wins have resulted in first-round knockouts.
Also signed to the UFC after Tuesday’s card was light heavyweight Alonzo Menifield, who knocked out DaShawn Boatwright in just eight seconds.