Tai Tuivasa Beats Greg Hardy Via 1st-Round Knockout at UFC 264

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistJuly 11, 2021

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 09: Tai Tuivasa of Australia poses on the scale during the UFC 264 official weigh-in at UFC APEX on July 09, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Jeff Bottari/Getty Images

Former Pro Bowl defensive end Greg Hardy's quest to become a relevant heavyweight in the UFC hit another roadblock at UFC 264. The 32-year-old lost to Tai Tuivasa via first-round knockout on the main card featuring Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier. 

The fight played out like a typical heavyweight slugfest. Tuivasa probed early with some leg kicks that landed just before the two started throwing bombs. Although Hardy appeared to hurt Tuivasa, he fired back with a left hook that put Hardy on the floor. 

Overall, it was just a great night for the Australian which included a walkout that featured a Spice Girls song. 

Chad Dundas @chaddundas

Tai Tuivasa walked out to the Spice Girls, knocked out Greg Hardy and drank a beer out of a shoe on top of the cage. If you don't like that guy, that's a YOU problem.

It wasn't long after that "Bam Bam" was doing his signature shoey celebration. 

ESPN MMA @espnmma

💥 Knockout 👟 Shoey @bambamtuivasa doing what Tai Tuivasa does at #UFC264 https://t.co/cERJzjlp3A

Afterward, he let Hardy know he had barked up the wrong tree:

MMAFighting.com @MMAFighting

Tuivasa: He wanted to bang with me. I'm not the right guy to bang with, pick another bloke #UFC264

Hardy is now 12 fights into his MMA career, remaining busy since he made his MMA debut in 2018 on Dana White's Contender Series. He has remained busy and there has clearly been development throughout his fights in the cage, but he has struggled to make his mark against the better competition he has faced. 

While he has picked up wins against the likes of Yorgan de Castro and Maurice Greene, he has losses to Alexander Volkov, Marcin Tybura and now Tuivasa. 

There's no shame in that. Tuivasa is a talented heavyweight, albeit one who has yet to have a breakout performance of his own. He has officially rebounded from a three-fight losing skid with a three-fight winning streak and could even parlay this into another fight in the limelight. 

The slugger isn't the most polished fighter but he's a fan favorite for his forward style. It's one that he hopes leads to more monetary reward. 

"I chase the money," Tuivasa said, per Nolan King and Ken Hathaway of MMAjunkie. "I'm in this to feed my son. I'm in this to give him a better life. I'm in this for him not to go and do this s--t (of), 'Bleed for your money,' you know? I want to give him a good education and give him some stuff I didn’t really get. If I can bleed for that, then sweet, I’m all for it."

As for Hardy, it will be interesting to see how long the UFC is willing to keep giving him shots. His athleticism and name recognition as a former NFL star gave him a potential path to stardom if he could put together a solid game with limited time. 

However, this loss seems to be revealing a ceiling. He'll turn 33 by the end of the month and whether he can fix the holes in his game at this age is an interesting question.