An emotional Greg Hardy saw no positives and no upside to going three rounds with a top-ranked UFC heavyweight.
A decision loss to Alexander Volkov in UFC Moscow’s co-headliner left Hardy “clearly devastated” and determined to fight his way back to the top.
”The bar where I want to get to is astronomically high,” Hardy told ESPN after his loss, which marked his second octagon setback after a disqualification in his debut. “It’s so far away from me that I’m in tears on the inside.
”I have a lot to go, and I’m going to go get it. I’m going to sweat and bleed until it’s done. I will be the ‘King of War.’ But right now, I’m humbly bowing down as the ‘Prince of War’ in defeat to one of the best in the game right now.”
Over three rounds, the 6-foot-7 Volkov kept Hardy at bay with a long jab and longer kicks, repeatedly landing shots that left the ex-NFLer swollen and bloody. Judges unanimously awarded the Russian with 30-27 scores, leaving Hardy’s professional record at 5-2 with one no contest.
Hardy, whose past with domestic violence has made him a regular target of UFC fans, stepped up on two weeks’ notice to take on Volkov after another controversial outing in his previous bout. His use of inhaler between rounds prompted the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission to overturn a decision win over Ben Sosoli at UFC on ESPN 6.
There was no inhaler in sight between rounds, as the UFC ruled it out as the de-facto regulator of the ESPN+ event. If splints were allowed, Hardy could have used one when an early punch injured his right arm, leaving him hesitant to throw power punches for the remainder of the fight.
”I kind of lost the use of my right hand after the first, so my mind was just, ‘Get comfortable,’” he said. “I kind of settled in front of him. I wanted to close distance a little bit more. I feel like I got back into the game plan later in the fight, but you can’t fight somebody like Alexander Volkov and start in the middle of the second round.”
The No. 7 ranked Volkov connected on 57 percent of his significant strikes and outlanded Hardy in total strikes, 86 to 51. Afterward, the Russian called for fights against Junior Dos Santos – his originally scheduled UFC Moscow opponent – or Alistair Overeem.
For Hardy, the only stat he paid attention to was the loss on his record. At moments, the controversial heavyweight appeared as though he might let a tear slip.
”I’ve got to check out the film, see what I did wrong, (and) analyze it professionally,” he said. “But right now, the only thing that matters is the ‘W,’ and I didn’t leave with the ‘W,’ so that means there’s work to be done, and I didn’t do exactly what I said I was going to do. And that makes me feel very bad.”