By: Fasika Zelealem
With three heavyweight matchups scheduled for UFC 249, Greg Hardy vs Yorgan De Castro has been the least talked about bout but don’t let that fool you into thinking it won’t be an exciting and compelling fight.
The matchup was originally scheduled for a UFC Fight Night on March 28 in Columbus, Ohio, the event that was supposed to be headlined by fellow heavyweights Francis Ngannou and Jairzinho Rozenstruik before the coronavirus pandemic forced the event’s cancellation.
Greg Hardy, the former Carolina Panther and Dallas Cowboy defensive end faces unbeaten Yorgan De Castro who’s making just his second appearance in the UFC. He made his debut at UFC 243 with a first-round knockout of Justin Tafa after winning a UFC contract on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2019 after defeating Alton Meeks.
Despite being 32 years of age, De Castro is a relative newbie with just five professional mixed martial arts contests but a win on Saturday night could put him amongst the high-profile heavyweights in the division. Hardy on the other hand, who entered the UFC with a reputation as a former professional NFL athlete while bring numerous controversies, has been criticised by some for seemingly getting opportunities that others have had to work harder than Hardy has.
Greg Hardy Odds at UFC 249: The Man Everyone Loves to Hate
Nevertheless, he’s proved that he’s a legit MMA athlete with a 5-2 record, all under Dana White’s Contender Series and the UFC. A win for him at UFC 249 could put him on a path towards the top heavyweights including the likes of Curtis Blaydes, Junior dos Santos and Derrick Lewis.
De Castro sees the fight with Hardy as a huge opportunity for him as he spoke to MMA Junkie.
“I hate nobody at all, and I begged to fight Greg Hardy,” he said. “I don’t care about what’s going on in his life. I think he’s a super athlete, a big guy. I always like to prove my point that I belong in the UFC, and why not fight a guy like Greg Hardy? Everybody thinks he can be a big star one day in the UFC.
“We’re going to fight at the end of the day. We don’t have to add any drama. I can fight anyone. The UFC sends me a contract, I’m fighting. It doesn’t matter. I don’t like to really add extra drama and negativity and hate on my camp. I’m going to fight you, anyway, so I don’t like to trash talk.”
Hardy is a 2-1 favourite in the fight and has shown steady improvements in his mixed martial arts skills since his debut in 2020. Hardy said he’s looking forward to showing how much he’s evolved as an MMA athlete at UFC 249.
“It’s going to sound like the cocky answer, but I feel like I’m exactly where I said I was going to be,” Hardy said (via UFC.com). “I feel like every single fight, the difference in my game, the difference that you see in Greg Hardy, the fighter, has been substantial.
“That was my goal, initially, to make sure the difference could be seen; to make sure I was maturing over time and applying it to every fight so that every fight, you get a better fighter, a more evolved fighter.”
This fight is unlikely to get out of the first round and whoever can land that devastating heavyweight blow is looking towards better and brighter things in the heavyweight division.