For some reason the UFC really wants Greg Hardy to be a thing. Despite his abysmal showing and DQ loss in his first UFC fight, the convicted domestic abuser (whose conviction was later overturned on appeal and expunged from his record when the accuser did not appear in court) was given another co-main event slot above far more skilled fighters. His opponent was Dmitrii Smoliakov, a man who had lost his only two previous UFC appearances to Cyril Asker and Louis Henrique, gotten one win on the regional scene, and was thrown into a UFC co-main event.
Dana White, who once said that domestic abuse was something you just don’t come back from, was adamant in defending the booking. He made the (frankly unbelievable) claim that the UFC doesn’t do set-up fights for anyone. However, even White had to admit that Smoliakov didn’t exactly perform like an elite fighter. Via BloodyElbow.com:
You guys know, I’ve been doing this for 20 years, we don’t do set-up fights for anybody,” White told members of the media.
I don’t know who the f—k that guy beat in nine fights, but I’d like to see the nine guys he beat.
The story White seems to be going for, then, is that there was some oversight on the part of UFC matchmakers, booking Hardy against a fighter he couldn’t imagine having beaten nine people. Indeed, Smoliakov crumbled under the slightest pressure from Hardy and then got punched from top position until the referee stepped in. The real question was, why was Hardy in the co-main event at all after losing his first fight? His win actually received boos from the crowd, a sub-UFC level, boring bout sandwiched between the hilariously awesome Perry-Oliveira and the compelling war in the main event. Nevertheless, White defended Hardy’s performance.
Not to take anything away from Hardy. Hardy came in in great shape, Hardy doesn’t make fights, me and my guys do,” he said. “And Hardy came in in better shape and did what he had to do. He treated that guy like he supposed to.
The guy’s record is 9-2. I want to see the nine guys he beat. They might be in this room right now, actually.