Greg Hardy Gets Knockout Win in 1st Round vs. Austen Lane

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJune 13, 2018

LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 12:  Greg Hardy prepares to enter the Octagon prior to his heavyweight bout against Austen Lane during Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series at the TUF Gym on June 12, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/DWTNCS LLC)
Jeff Bottari/DWTNCS LLC/Getty Images

Greg Hardy knocked out Austen Lane in the first round on the second season premiere of Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series.

The former Pro Bowl defensive end caught Lane with a right hook that had Lane out on his feet and finished the job with a short left hook before the referee stepped in to stop the fight.

This was Hardy's professional MMA debut after he reeled off three straight victories as an amateur. As part of the show, UFC President Dana White awards at least one fighter a UFC contract at the end of the night.

Based on his emphatic victory, many expect Hardy to be one of Tuesday's biggest winners:

Hardy indicated he's prepared to take the next step, per MMA Fighting:

Many criticized the UFC for providing Hardy with the platform from which he could earn himself a UFC deal. Defending the move, White told reporters Hardy was "never charged with anything," alluding to Hardy's domestic violence case.

However, Hardy was found guilty in a 2014 bench trial of assaulting his former girlfriend, Nicole Holder. The charges were dropped in February 2015 when Holder didn't appear at a hearing for his appeal and stopped cooperating with prosecutors.

In the buildup to Tuesday's fight, Hardy spoke glowingly of White for offering him a shot.

"I'm here because Dana White is an angel that gave me the opportunity to come and put my best foot forward," Hardy said, per ESPN.com's Brett Okamoto. "I honestly couldn't begin to explain it, I can only express my appreciation and gratitude for the opportunity to be here and show what kind of athlete I am and what I have developed into."

If White was willing to absorb the blowback from booking Hardy against Lane, then there's little reason to think he'd shy away from signing Hardy to the UFC.

Hardy may be relatively new to MMA, but he's at an age (29) that should allow him to continue developing his skills in the Octagon before he's thrust back into the spotlight.

Based on Tuesday, it's only a matter of time before Hardy is fighting on a UFC pay-per-view or Fight Night special.

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