Ex-NFL player Greg Hardy opens bare knuckle fighting career by getting knocked out cold

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 05: Greg Hardy reacts after his TKO loss to Serghei Spivac of Moldova in their heavyweight fight during the UFC 272 event on March 05, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Greg Hardy's post NFL career has been a very mixed bag. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC) (Jeff Bottari via Getty Images)

Greg Hardy's meandering post-NFL career saw him make his debut with the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship on Friday. It did not go well.

The former Pro Bowl pass rusher entered BKFC: Knucklemania 3 as an overwhelming favorite against underdog Josh Watson, but he received a cold dose of reality at the end of the first round when a left from Watson sent him reeling into the ropes.

The hit was scored a knockdown as the ropes prevented Hardy's fall, leading to a 10-count from referee Dan Miragliotta.

The first round ended before Watson could do any more damage, but then he hit Hardy with another left hook in the second, knocking him horizontal and ending the fight.

Watson was participating in his third BKFC event, holding a 1-1 record with the promotion. Before that, he had gone eight years since a minor MMA career, per Tapology.

The BKFC organizers who signed Hardy were undoubtedly left with the same feeling the UFC experienced in 2019, when Hardy made his promotional debut as a -500 favorite against Allen Crowder. Dana White and Co. had hoped Hardy's athleticism and pre-existing following could give them a new star, but then Hardy lost his debut via an illegal knee in a fight he hardly dominated.

That night more or less set the tone for Hardy's MMA career. The UFC kept feeding him bottom-tier opponents until he got his big shot against Alexander Volkov and lost. Hardy left the promotion last year with a career MMA record of 7-5 with one no-contest.

Hardy also entered the world of boxing with a pair of bouts late last year, the latter a win against Hasim Rahman Jr., whose claim to fame to date is almost fighting Jake Paul.

The whole spectacle is a far cry from Hardy's prime in the NFL, where he posted 40 sacks in six seasons with the Carolina Panthers and Dallas Cowboys. That career ended under a cloud of outrage over the domestic allegations against him.