Former NFL defensive lineman Greg Hardy was tonight (Saturday May 9, 2020) to prove that he can compete at the highest professional level of mixed martial arts (MMA), opening ESPN + pay-per -view (PPV) of UFC 249) main card in front of undefeated prospect, Yorgan de Castro, inside the Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida. And that’s exactly what he did, masking the Cape Verde-born fighter on the judges’ dashboards en route to an important unanimous decision.
The two fighters came and shook hands, de Castro landing with a huge right hand early. Hardy responded with a wild kick, while de Castro breathed another loop to the right. de Castro was barely missing with a left hook, while Hardy attempted to step onto the board with a forehand. de Castro holding Hardy at bay with a chain of low blows, then pressed with a burst, but nothing connected. Hardy landed a hard low kick, then blocked a difficult left cross that would likely have turned off his lights. de Castro pricked it with a right hand, then another low kick, which Hardy has yet to verify. Hardy hands Castro back to a corner and the two start to trade hard knocks, Hardy making the most of the powerful exchanges. de Castro continued to turn away from danger until the end of the opening frame.
de Castro kicked off with another punitive low kick on Hardy’s head leg. Hardy responded in kind, but de Castro did lasting damage to slow his opponent down. Hardy continued to support the action, while de Castro waited for opportunities to counter and explode. de Castro whipped another low kick, and this time Hardy checked it, which seemed to bother Castro. Two minutes later, Hardy continued to track Castro, his right hand armed and ready to shoot. de Castro’s production dropped considerably in the second half of the round, while Hardy continued to bring the fight to him … without notable success. And that’s how the second verse ended – basically a Hardy training match.
Between the rounds, it appeared that the corner of de Castro begged him to continue. And he did, unleashing a series of hard knocks in the first minute. de Castro definitely picked up the pace, knowing that whoever won the final round would likely win the match. Halfway through the heat, things turned out well, then de Castro missed a high kick and landed on his back. Hardy punched and kicked him in the legs, which Castro’s corner screamed for their fighter to get back on his feet. Finally, Hardy got tired of it and told the referee that he wanted de Castro to get back on his feet. But when he got there – much like in the previous round – Castro was stuck in the cruise control and did nothing. He pointed his foot as he and Hardy kissed after the bell, possibly indicating that he had been injured on the above verified low kick.
It was a strange performance by de Castro, who looked solid for the first five minutes, then just disappeared in the home stretch. Hardy credited ring announcer Daniel Cormier – as well as the crowd-free location – for the reason he checked the kick. He heard “D.C.” talk about it and… “change the game”.
Final result: Hardy defeated Castro by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
MMAmania.com offers turn-by-turn, live coverage of the entire UFC 249 combat map HERE, now.
To check out the latest and best news from UFC 249: “Ferguson vs Gaethje”, be sure to check out our full event archive here.