Crowder told Luke Thomas on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour that he does not believe that Hardy was looking for a way out of the fight by kneeing him while his knee was down on the ground. Crowder believes the illegal blow further underscores his theory that Hardy, the former NFL player, wasn’t at a UFC level of experience yet.
“I don’t think he was looking for a way out,” Crowder said. “I think it’s more inexperience. He’s not been doing this very long. He stepped out to the side. I believe in his mind he thought … I know he knew he’s not allowed to throw that knee with me on the ground. But I think heated up in the heat of the moment, he just forgot for a split second and threw that knee trying to get that finish. He just made a mistake. Another mistake of many mistakes that he makes. But I don’t feel like he was trying to cop out of the fight. He’s a tough dude. I think it was just an inexperience kind of thing.”
Crowder and Hardy were in a scramble in the second round of their fight at UFC Brooklyn when Crowder climbed onto one knee. Hardy had control around Crowder’s head, then moved off to the side. With Crowder’s knee clearly on the ground, making a knee or kick to the head illegal, Hardy threw and landed a hard knee.
Crowder fell to the canvas, referee Dan Miragliotta halted the action and doctors entered the cage. The bout was called off and Miragliotta ruled it a disqualification of Hardy and victory for Crowder. Crowder said it was the doctors, not him, who wanted the fight to end.
“It more stunned me than anything,” Crowder said. “I fell back to my back and I knew that he wasn’t allowed to do that. So I was like, alright, I’m gonna take a second, I’m gonna get back up, we’ll be good to go. Then the doctors start running in there and they immediately stop the fight and whatnot.”
In that scramble, Crowder said he was waiting for Hardy to throw his big right hand and then he was going to shoot in for a takedown. That was the plan in that sequence. Instead, the knee ended both of their nights.
“Had that knee not hit me in the head, I feel like I was gonna get him back on the ground,” Crowder said. “I still had more left in the tank. I feel like if I got him back on the ground, I would have finished him with elbows like I planned on from the beginning.”
Hardy, a lightning rod for controversy with a past that includes domestic violence and cocaine arrests, landed heavy shots on Crowder early in the first round. Crowder was able to recover and get Hardy down for a large chunk of time in the round. The judges still gave the first five minutes to Hardy.
In the second, Hardy was clearly tiring and didn’t have that big burst that enabled him to win his three first career MMA fights in under a minute. Crowder, at one point in the second round, was screaming at him in the cage, trying to bait Hardy in.
“Honestly, I was kind of hyped up in the moment, you know what I mean?” Crowder said. “I was basically just talking a lot of trash. The words I was saying I don’t really want to repeat. But basically I knew his punches were slow now, I knew they didn’t have the power they did before. I was trying to get him to throw. I wanted to counter and take him to the ground or counter and catch him with a big left hand.”
Crowder, 29, said he believes Hardy can be a quality fighter in the UFC in a few years. He said he was not “blown away” by Hardy’s power. And there are parts of the grappling game that Hardy, who trains at American Top Team, needs to tidy up.
“Definitely, he needs to work on his ground game,” Crowder said. “He ended up using the cage, pushing me off. I made a few mistakes, too. I had a little ring rust. There was a lot of little things going back and looking, I should have done this, should have done this. I could have ended the fight there. That’s just part of the game, I guess.”
Crowder (10-3, 1 NC) said he suffered a tear in his knee about 10 weeks from the fight in training, so he couldn’t work on the ground as much as he wanted. Still, he doesn’t think Hardy performed poorly at all and thinks in time he can become a good fighter. He’s just not there yet, Crowder said.
“I wanted to show he wasn’t ready for the UFC yet,” Crowder said. “I feel like I’ve done that, I feel like I showed he wasn’t experienced. I showed that he still has work to do on the ground. He’s a strong guy, he got backup. Most people, when I get them on the ground they don’t get back up.”