Former NFL star Greg Hardy earns knockout victory in MMA debut

Former NFL defensive end Greg Hardy seen here with the Dallas Cowboys. (Brandon Wade/AP)

Disgraced former NFL star Greg Hardy was successful in his first career amateur mixed martial arts bout at an event Saturday night.

Hardy knocked out his opponent, Joe Hawkins, who was also making his MMA debut, in 32 seconds at Rise of a Warrior 21 in Fort Pierce, Fla.

Hardy, now competing in the heavyweight division, spent four full seasons with the Carolina Panthers but the 29-year-old was found guilty on two counts of domestic violence in July 2014 – those charges were dismissed during the appeal process in February 2015 – for an alleged altercation with his ex-girlfriend. He was placed on the NFL’s Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission List and missed all but one game of the 2014 season before playing 12 games with the Dallas Cowboys in 2015.

The 2013 Pro Bowl defensive end announced his transition into MMA in October 2016.

“I’m ecstatic. I’ve been humbled a lot in the last two years,” Hardy said after Saturday’s win via ESPN’s James Walker. “I’m just super excited to be a able to compete. I’m just super excited to be back in the area. I’m super excited to be back to the Greg Hardy everyone knows and remembers and give back to my fans.”