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Dana White says ‘ground game’ will decide whether or not Greg Hardy is UFC ready

LAS VEGAS — Dana White seemed impressed with Greg Hardy’s latest dominant performance. But the UFC president still seems to be taking a wait-and-see approach.

Hardy knocked out Tebaris Gordon in just 17 seconds on the season finale of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series on Tuesday night here at the TUF Gym. The fight didn’t get out of the first exchange.

White, for his part, seemed to indicate afterward that Hardy, who was already signed to a UFC developmental deal after a knockout earlier this season, would still be getting the slow-build treatment. Even though Hardy has looked phenomenal after two pro fights.

“I told him, I said, ‘I hope you’re working on your wrestling, because I think guys are gonna start coming out and trying to take you down,’” White said. “I don’t see how much longer guys will come out and strike with him. He claims he’s working on his wrestling and his ground game all day, every day, so we’re gonna continue to build this guy, continue to get him fights and see what he does.

“It’s the level of competition. The guy is 1-0 and he just fought a guy who was 3-0.”

White said Gordon promised in the pre-fight promo that he was going to come right out and slug with Hardy, who is training at American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Fla. When someone decides — or attempts — to take Hardy to the ground is when things will be enlightening, White said.

“When a guy has that mentality going into a fight, it’s a good thing,” White said. “But you saw what happened. In 17 seconds, he finished him. [Hardy] hits hard, he’s big, he’s strong, he’s confident. He got hit with a couple shots on the chin, took him. It’s all gonna be about that ground game when that happens to him.”

The UFC has received some criticism for getting into the Hardy business. He was convicted on two domestic violence in 2014, but later got off on appeal after a reported financial settlement with the victim. Hardy was suspended 10 games by the NFL after the conviction and not re-signed by the Dallas Cowboys for the 2016 season, reportedly due to attitude issues.

White said Hardy has done a complete 180 and become a better person.

“The guy has changed his life around,” White said. “This is his second chance. He’s been excellent to deal with. Every body who has come in contact with him since he’s been with us has said nothing but good [things] about him. The guy made a mistake. You’re always gonna have the freaks that have nothing better to do and this and that and somebody has a cause.

“What the guy did was horrible. He has a second chance here. He turned his life around. He got off drugs, he got off alcohol. He hit rock bottom and built himself back up. What do they want the guy to do? He should never work again? He should never do anything again? Life doesn’t work that way.”

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