Greg Hardy outworked Yorgan de Castro to land the biggest win of his short career in an uneventful heavyweight tilt at UFC 249 in Jacksonville, Florida on Saturday night. In an ultimately disappointing start to the main card in Florida, which was tipped to be a slugfest from the outset, former NFL star Hardy (6-2, one no contest) took the unanimous decision, winning 30-27 on all three judges’ cards. “It went exactly how I thought it was going to go,” Hardy said backstage after his win. “I said we would either bang it out in the first or we were going to bang it out for all three, and that’s exactly what we did. “We played a smart game, but we were both in there to throw haymakers. My corners always tell me to use my athletic ability and stay smart out there, so that’s what I was trying to focus on and still deliver some big boy punches.” Hardy, who bounced back from defeat last time out against Alexander Volkov, took some damage early on with repeated hammering kicks from De Castro. But the previously undefeated De Castro’s output seized dramatically from the midway point in the second round when he suffered damage to his right foot, allowing Hardy to establish some dominance from the centre of the Octagon with his ranged striking. Hardy began landing leg kicks of his own as he sensed De Castro slowing up down the home straight and in the end, it was Hardy’s activity that was the difference. Afterwards, Hardy was asked to describe his whirlwind start to life in the UFC. “Like going to Disney World. It’s been a roller coaster,” said the 31-year-old in the Octagon, before imploring his inquisitor Joe Rogan to host him on his popular podcast. “I’m an advanced fighter, this is the third time I’ve done it – three 15 fights, three decent opponents, three great strikers, three great athletes,” he added backstage. “I feel like I proved that I can stay focused, stay in the pocket and do my job. I’m here to stay, here to evolve and do my job.” Help us understand what you are interested in so that we can improve SCMP and provide a better experience for you. We would like to invite you to take this five-minute survey on how you engage with SCMP and the news.