At a glance, it looked like Dmitrii Smoliakov wanted nothing to do with Greg Hardy. And Dana White saw the same thing that everyone else saw.
The UFC president was asked bout Saturday’s co-headliner in Sunrise, Florida, a heavyweight bout between controversial ex-NFLer Greg Hardy and the lightly regarded Smoliakov. Hardy dispatched of Smoliakov with ease, winning by TKO in the first round, but afterwards much of the talk was centered on Smoliakov’s timid performance as opposed to Hardy’s quick finish.
White agreed that Smoliakov and his 9-2 record (which included a pair of UFC bouts from a few years ago) had no business being inside the Octagon, though he refuted the notion that this was an opponent handpicked to make Hardy look good.
“I’m not gonna say that I loved that fight,” White said at the UFC Fort Lauderdale post-fight presser. “You guys know, I’ve been doing this for 20 years, we don’t do set-up fights for anybody. And if I was a fan and probably some of the media, the way some of the media acts, I would think that was—I don’t know who the f*ck that guy beat in nine fights, but I’d like to see the nine guys he beat. That was weird.”
Hardy needed all the help he could get to repair his reputation after his UFC debut in January ended in him throwing a blatantly illegal knee and getting himself disqualified. That blooper was compounded by Hardy’s past involvement in a domestic violence case that has on occasion overshadowed the success he’s had in his brief pro and amateur fighting career.
Assessing Hardy, White gave a short, but positive review.
“Not to take anything away from Hardy,” White said. “Hardy came in in great shape, Hardy doesn’t make fights, me and my guys do, and Hardy came in and better shape and he did what he had to do. He treated that guy like he was supposed to.”
As for what this means for Hardy’s matchmaking going forward, White again joked about Smoliakov’s credentials.
“No, I mean, that guy’s record is 9-2,” White said. “I want to see the nine guys he beat, they might be in this room right now, actually.”
When a reporter sarcastically noted that he wasn’t one of them, White replied, “I wouldn’t be shocked though.”