Greg Hardy's journey from disgraced NFL star to the UFC Octagon has been anything but predictable. At UFC 249, Hardy got back on the winning track after coming up empty in the win column in back-to-back fights. Hardy managed to take a decision in a slow-paced bout with Yorgan De Castro to open the pay-per-view portion of the event from VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida, on Saturday night.
De Castro came out of the corner throwing huge punches at the opening bell, but Hardy used his height advantage to mostly keep his head out of range. De Castro settled down into throwing leg kicks as Hardy started to pop off jabs as he was figuring out the best distance to safely let his hands go while also getting his leg chopped repeatedly.
As Hardy's leg began to show the effects of De Castro's leg attack, visibly cutting into his mobility, De Castro threw fewer and fewer of the damaging kicks. That change in offensive strategy by De Castro allowed Hardy to settle into more of a rhythm and poke with his own strikes with little danger coming in return.
With things tilted hard in Hardy's favor heading into the final round, he began throwing heavy leg kicks of his own. The fight had clearly slipped from De Castro's grasp with two minutes left in Round 3 as he slipped to the canvas and proceeded to lay on his back while Hardy stood over him for nearly a minute.
After three rounds, all three judges scored the fight 30-27 for Hardy as he came back from a unanimous decision loss to Alexander Volkov in his most recent fight. Prior to that loss, Hardy had a decision win against Ben Sosoli overturned to a no contest after using an inhaler in his corner between rounds.
Following the victory, Hardy revealed how the empty-arena setting actually aided him in the victory. In the post-fight interview with Joe Rogan inside the Octagon, Hardy acknowledged that the audible commentary from Daniel Cormier actually helped coach him back to the win column.
"Shoutout to DC, I heard him tell me to go out and check 'em, so I went out and checked 'em!" Hardy said.
For complete results, highlights and analysis of the action on Saturday night, be sure to visit the CBS Sports UFC 249 live blog.