UFC 249: Controversial Hardy aiming to build on Moscow mission as he meets unbeaten Yorgan De Castro in potential slugfest
A potential heavyweight slugfest between Yorgan De Castro and Greg Hardy kicks off this weekend’s main card at UFC 249 in Florida, as the controversial Hardy aims to build on a promising if unsuccessful previous octagon outing.
The 15,000 capacity Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville could be shaking from the power of two heavy hitters on Saturday night as Hardy and De Castro get the main card started.
Unbeaten in his career so far, the 'Mad Titan' De Castro is giving away something of a physical disadvantage to the 6ft 5in Hardy, but still has plenty of strength to do a huge amount of damage in the biggest fight of his life so far.
Not that he’s shied away from ensuring Hardy knows he means business however, posting a sparring video inside his training camp with the caption: “There’s no secret game plan. I’m coming for somebody’s soul.”
The 33 year-old Cape Verde national has adopted Massachusetts as his home state, and has an army of local fans behind him thanks to his job as a security guard at a school.
He comes off the back of a debut first-round knockout of Justin Tafa in front of a record crowd at UFC 243, so fans will be expecting fireworks against Hardy.
As for Greg Hardy, the 'Prince of War' is sure to bring all-out aggression to the octagon. The controversial former NFL footballer is a divisive character to say the least, but seems to have his opponent’s respect. “If you see the heavyweight division, Greg Hardy is one of the biggest names and he’s not ranked yet,” says De Castro.
“He’s fought five times for the UFC and he’s got a lot of hate behind him. A lot of people hate him. A lot of people like him. But either way, people are going to tune in and watch.
"I think it’s a good matchup, and he’s one of those guys that will get better over time. I think right now, I can beat him, so this is the right time to be fighting him.”
Hardy has been tantalisingly quiet on social media in the build-up to the fight, not tweeting for almost a month as he prepares to do battle.
The 31 year-old from Tennessee was defeated on points by Alexander Volkov in his last fight after stepping in as a short-notice replacement, but despite that continued to show signs of progress for the organization.
The lack of fans present at the event may well be a disadvantage to Hardy, who seems to almost feed off the regular booing from UFC audiences due to the allegations of domestic violence leveled against him.Also on rt.com Gutsy Greg Hardy loses to Russia's Alexander Volkov via unanimous decision at UFC Moscow
But the fact that he stands five inches taller than De Castro could be a bonus, especially in a fight that could come down to sheer punching ability. It will be almost a year since Hardy recorded a win; his fight last October with Ben Sosoli was ruled a no-contest after Hardy was spotted using an inhaler in his corner after the third round.
But his speed and strength are undeniable; all five of his wins so far have come by knockout and he feels that this fight could be a real stepping stone for his career, telling TMZ: "This is my dream scenario. After this fight, I come back, get this knockout [against De Castro]. Remind everybody who it is.
"I think the UFC [rankings] starts at top 15. I think we start with 15 and go down the line. Fifteen fights later I knock out the guy holding the belt, whoever it is."Also on rt.com 'Let's run it!' UFC star Greg Hardy says he wants to LIVE on Dana White's 'Fight Island' (VIDEO)