Allen Crowder said he envisioned a second-round stoppage of Greg Hardy in their heavyweight bout at UFC Brooklyn.
What he likely didn’t figure on was that it would be via disqualification and he would be helped out of the octagon. Yet, Crowder walked off to a hero’s applause as he earned the victory over Hardy by disqualification for an ilegal strike in the second round at Barclays Center on Saturday night.
As Crowder (10-3, 1-1 UFC) had a knee on the ground, Hardy threw a hard right knee that connected flush and sent Crowder backward. Referee Dan Miragliotta quickly paused the fight and sent Hardy to a neutral as doctors came in to examine Crowder. Moments later, the fight was waived off at the 2:28 mark of round two.
Hardy said after the fight that the knee was not intentional.
"I felt like when I threw the knee, I thought it was a great knee," Hardy said.
"Inexperience, and I was trying to time it. I thought it was the right thing to do at the time and it was not. I messed up."
The crowd soundly booed Hardy after the illegal strike. It was a continuation of their boos for him during his walkout and introduction, his reputation preceding himself in his UFC debut. Hardy (3-1) was involved in a domestic violence incident in 2014 when he was a Pro Bowl defensive lineman for the Carolina Panthers.
It was the first time Hardy didn’t finish his opponent in the first round. He had three previous pro MMA fights and three amateur fights, and no opponent lasted more than 96 seconds.
Crowder was able to get Hardy to the ground in the first round, but Hardy demonstrated some capable groundwork. He won the round on all three judges’ scorecards.
“When you get here, it’s a whole other ballgame,” UFC president Dana White said about Hardy. “It’s a different world when you get here. It’s a a whole different vibe. One thing I did learn about Hardy tonight is he can fight.”
White called the illegal knee from Hardy a "rookie mistake" and said he plans to give him another fight in the UFC.
In the second round, around the three-minute mark, Crowder began taunting Hardy, yelling at him to fight. Hardy didn’t take the bait. The crowd did though, rallying behind Crowder’s brazen approach.
"He started yelling at me trying to coax me into being a crazy fighter," Hardy said. "I brushed it off."
Hardy wasn't ready to think about any positive aspects of his performance, such as showing he could get back up after a takedown and that he has the endurance to last longer than a minute or so.
“I recognize that there are positives. I don’t operate well enough to sit here and acknowledge them right now," Hardy said.
Hardy said he let down his team, his coaches, the UFC and everyone "who put their name on the line" by signing him to a developmental deal and putting him in a co-main event on the first UFC card on ESPN+.
"I'm going to fix my timing," Hardy said. "I'm going to fix everything I have to fix."