At the UFC Brooklyn post-fight press conference, Greg Hardy did not sound like a man who had intended to cheat.
The controversial former NFL star made his UFC debut in the co-main event of Saturday night’s card at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center against Allen Crowder, and it was memorable for all the wrong reasons.
Hardy was disqualified by referee Dan Miragliotta at the 2:28 mark of the second round of the heavyweight bout for throwing an illegal knee to the head of his downed foe.
A disconsolate Hardy repeatedly apologized to Crowder for his actions, and said that the incident was the result of inexperience, not intentional cheating.
“He was getting up, it was inexperience in mistiming it, man,” said Hardy (3-1), whose previous three pro fights had just 2:07 of ring time. “But I trying to time it like I had just watched Donald Cowboy Cerrone do, like I saw everybody else do, and I thought it was the right thing to do at the time. And it was not. I messed up.”
Hardy felt as if he let his team down with his actions, and said this isn’t the sort of fight he wants to be known as.
“I was built to do this,” Hardy said. “I was made to do this, man, and I let people down today. I let my gym down. I let my team down, and you know it? it sucks man. I didn’t want him to go out like that. That sucks for Allen Crowder man, for him to go out like that, no matter how he feels about me that’s not okay you know. I take full responsibility for this. It’s not something I’d do on purpose. Anybody that’s ever met me, or been around me, knows it’s not something I would do. I wish we could go back and go into the third round, man.”
Hardy had been booed by the announced crowd of 12,152 at the Barclays Center before the fight, likely as a result of his controversial past. The American Top Team fighter and former NFL All-Pro was involved in a domestic violence incident in 2014 and was arrested for cocaine possession in 2016, and his spot on a card which also featured a recent domestic violence victim in Rachael Ostovich.
He was jeered even more vigorously by the crowd after the illegal knee, but he said he didn’t even notice.
“It would be real selfish for me to sit around and talk about the boos when I’ve got all these people who traveled halfway across the world to be here with me, man,” Hardy said. “All I can think about is like I said is how I let these people down for these people who put their name on the line for me. It might not mean a lot to regular people, but it means a lot to me man.”
While his tone at the presser was mostly one of disappointment, he became defiant when asked about people viewing him as a cheater after the illegal knee.
“Show me one time I’ve ever cheated in my life,” Hardy said. “Show me one of their favorite quarterbacks in history that I ever cheated against. Go ask Tom Brady if I ever cheated when I sacked him. I’m not a cheater. That’s not on my record, that’s not on my resume. Thirty years of life. Not one time. Not one time have you ever asked me a questions and I lied to you. Not one time have I ever stood up here and you asked a question and I said ‘it wasn’t my fault.’ I was there. I did it. It was my responsibility. I’m a grown man. That’s my character.”
UFC president Dana White indicated that Hardy will fight again in the UFC, and Hardy hopes it’s a runback of the Crowder bout.
“Allen Crowder, please come back and do this again, if he wants to,” Hardy said. “If not? I understand.”