Greg Hardy's 57-second knockout on the season two debut of Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series was just what the doctor ordered for the UFC, as the promotion tries to move past fallout from the embarrassing CM Punk experiment.
With the former Dallas Cowboys defensive end impressing in his first pro MMA start, fight fans and media members quickly moved on from chatter about "The Straight Edge Superstar" -- who failed spectacularly earlier this month at UFC 225. Hardy, who earned himself a UFC developmental contract with a crisp finish of Austen Lane, is the big-name, mainstream sports superstar that Punk was supposed to be for the Las Vegas-based MMA company.
He's a guy with a recognizable name, who could appeal to casual and hardcore fans alike. Unlike Punk, the ex-NFL talent has knockout power and natural instincts inside the cage.
Here's the thing: The UFC rightfully faced criticism for placing Punk on the pay-per-view portion of the UFC 225 card, ahead of top contenders and former world champions such as Carla Esparza and Rashad Evans. Punk's poor performance, combined with woefully low pay-per-view sales, had the MMA media buzzing all week after the Chicago pay-per-view.
For a while, there was a lot of negativity surrounding the UFC. People thought the promotion might be heading into a downward spiral. Hardy, who was arrested for domestic violence in 2014, might be the man to right the ship. While it's true he has a checkered past, there's nothing America loves more than a good comeback story.
In the sports world, it doesn't get much better than an athlete eyeing redemption -- with hard work, heart and determination. No one is making excuses for what Hardy may or may not have done in the past, but fans can't expect him to go the rest of his life without earning a living. Hardy seems like a changed man, a guy on the mission to prove he can stay out of trouble while venturing to the top of the MMA world. Whatever happens, it'll be a fascinating journey to keep an eye on.