Former NFL star Greg Hardy debuted with MMA knockout

Former NFL defensive end Greg Hardy hopes to eventually fight in the UFC, and his career in mixed martial arts got off to an impressive start this Saturday night.

Hardy (1-0) emerged victorious in his full-weight amateur debut, scoring a first-round knockout in 32 seconds over Joe Hawkins (0-1) in "Rise Of A Warrior 21." Hardy hit a powerful forehand that sent Hawkins to the canvas at the start of the fight, and then continued the punishment with a series of punches before the referee stopped the fight.

Hardy, who arrived at the cage wearing a skull mask, showed much of the elite athleticism and strength he used to show on the football field. He slipped at the start of the fight while backing up, but beyond that he moved well in the cage. The debut of Hardy, 29 years old, was far from playing in crowded stadiums with 50,000 or 70,000 fans. About 500 people attended a basketball gym converted to sand at the Havert L. Fenn Events Center, where Hardy, a former Pro Bowl player, was the most attractive name on the card but not the main event. Hardy was in the ninth of 13 fights.Follow to get the best betting predictions on the market.

Hardy trains at the American Top Team in South Florida, which is one of the largest and most respected gyms in mixed martial arts. UFC champions Tyron Woodley, Amanda Nunes and Joanna Jedrzejczyk are among the notable stars who also train in the ATT. The UFC's full-weight fighters, Junior Dos Santos, and Antonio Silva are also members of Hardy's gym and training partners.

In 2014, Hardy's NFL career took a turn for the worse when he was charged with domestic violence. Initially he was suspended 10 games by the NFL in 2015 for "behavior to the detriment of the league", but that penalty was reduced to four games while he was a member of the Dallas Cowboys. Hardy says he never violated the NFL's personal behavior policy. Hardy's six-year career included 165 tackles and 40 sacks in 75 games. He played one season in Dallas and five seasons with the Carolina Panthers.