As the saying goes, life moves pretty fast, and nowhere is that more true than the UFC’s heavyweight division.
On Tuesday, Junior dos Santos announced that he had been hospitalized with an infection and was forced to withdraw from his planned UFC Moscow co-main event against Alexander Volkov. Then, just a few hours later, it was announced that Greg Hardy would be stepping in on short notice. It’s a huge step up in competition for the controversial MMA neophyte but, speaking to TMZ Sports, Hardy said that it’s one he’s excited for and that he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to fill in for his American Top Team teammate.
“I’m excited. There were a lot of things that played into this decision and the big one was just the opportunity,” Hardy said. “This is a big time fight, this is high level competition. This is what any Prince of War or future King of War could ever hope for. And second of all, just somebody fell down. My teammate went down so somebody’s got to fill in. The next man up had got to fill in and that’s just always been my mentality, to hold it down for the team.”
Hardy is one of the most polarizing fighters in recent UFC history. The former NFL All-Pro caused a ruckus when the UFC signed him because of the domestic violence allegations that played a role in ousting him from professional football and his tenure in the UFC has been frequently beset by drama. In his UFC debut, Hardy was disqualified for throwing an illegal knee that knocked out opponent Allen Crowder, and then just last weekend, Hardy had his win over Ben Sosoli overturned to a no-contest because he used an inhaler between the second and third rounds (Hardy did ask a ringside official for permission to do so and plans to appeal the No Contest). On top of those two incidents, Hardy has faced a lot of criticism for the quality of his opposition in the UFC so far and part of the appeal for “The Prince of War” is that he can fight against a legitimate top-tier opponent and make a statement that he’s a real fighter.
“Yeah. A big thing for me, if everybody looks back and remembers, I was going with my team,” Hardy said. “I was going with my gym, I was going with everybody’s decision making and these same guys believe in me, and once I got the belief it’s just like, ‘Hey, let’s go.’
“After this Ben Sosoli guy, he’s supposed to be this huge tough guy and he was, but everybody’s like, ‘Oh he’s a can, give him some competition.’ It’s time. It’s time to make a statement, it’s time to step up and put my mettle to the test as the Prince of War. Stop talking, put the hands up, and fight with an actual monster. Fight with a top-ranked, elite assassin.”
Alexander Volkov is certainly that. The former M-1 Global and Bellator heavyweight champion is 4-1 in the UFC and was 11 seconds away from earning a UFC title shot before falling victim to one of the most sensational comebacks in UFC history at the hands of Derrick Lewis. That fight, Hardy says, gives him confidence that he is not jumping into the deep end too soon.
“The UFC always has my back,” Hardy said. “They took a gamble on me, they let me in the door, so they need somebody to fill in, for sure I’m about to go knock the guy out. The last one, soft Derrick Lewis knocked this dude out. If ‘pillow-hands’ Lewis can do it, for sure I feel like I can go in there and compete and knock this guy out.”
Who knows, if Hardy really can pull off the upset, maybe he and Lewis will finally get to settle their beef next.
Fight. Greg Hardy expected to face Alexander Volkov in new UFC Moscow co-main event.
Demian Maia top finishes.
Khabib in Istanbul, eating a feast.
Moments that changed the MMA rules.
Reyes with the same old same old.
SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
Really not sure when I’ll be fighting next, feel like I have nothing to gain by beating Dominic. I’ve actually felt that way about my last two opponents. I want a super fight https://t.co/Z3QTEpu2yr— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) October 23, 2019
Where did all the big names in the light heavyweight division go?— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) October 23, 2019
I feel like that fight is inevitable https://t.co/3r5Wvl6t93— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) October 23, 2019
Sometimes I think about sitting out and just training for the next two years, then coming back and challenge in the light heavyweight who’s been the most dominant.. wouldn’t that be wild https://t.co/dINaJPatQD— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) October 23, 2019
Had a chip on my shoulder against Gus. Fighting Smith Santos Dominic??? I’m having a hard time even talking shit to this last dude. They all say the same lame shit.. I want a fight to be excited about— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) October 23, 2019
Well, they’re trying.
Francis can’t catch a break.
UFC Moscow in 18 days?— Francis Ngannou (@francis_ngannou) October 22, 2019
Looks like I won't be able to fight again until February or March. Gonna be out 6 weeks.— The Diamond (@DustinPoirier) October 22, 2019
It would depress me a great deal to watch Cejudo KO a sucked out Aldo.
Greg Hardy (5-1, 1 NC) vs. Alexander Volkov (30-7); UFC Moscow, Nov. 9.
Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.
So how does this one go?
This poll is closed
Hardy with the upset
If you find something you’d like to see in the Morning Report, hit up @JedKMeshew on Twitter and let him know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram, add us on Snapchat at MMA-Fighting, and like us on Facebook.