Greg Hardy will take a significant step up in competition in his next Octagon appearance, as the former NFL star has agreed to face Alexander Volkov on short notice at UFC Fight Night 163.
ESPN.com was first to report the new heavyweight matchup. Volkov’s original foe, Junior dos Santos, was forced to withdraw from the contest after being hospitalized due to a bacterial infection in his leg. UFC Fight Night 163 takes place at CSKA Arena in Moscow on Nov. 9 and also includes a featherweight tilt pitting Zabit Magomedsharipov against Calvin Kattar. The card will air on ESPN+.
Magomedsharipov vs. Kattar will serve as the new main event but will remain three rounds, while Volkov vs. Hardy is set for the co-headliner.
"This was Greg's idea," Malki Kawa, Hardy’s manager, told ESPN. "He trains with Junior dos Santos at American Top Team and saw that he was sick. He called me up and asked what I thought about him fighting Volkov. I actually didn't like the fight for him, I thought maybe it was too soon, but Greg wants to step up in competition.
"He thinks he can go to Moscow and knock him out, and he wanted to help the promotion, which is exactly what he did.”
Hardy is coming off yet another controversial bout at UFC on ESPN 6, where a decision victory over Ben Sosoli was overturned to a no contest due to Hardy’s unapproved use of an inhaler between the second and third rounds. Hardy and his team are planning to appeal the no contest. The American Top Team representative is 5-1 with one no contest thus far in his professional career, a record that includes triumphs over Dmitry Smoliakov and Juan Adams in UFC competition.
Volkov had a six-fight winning streak snapped in his last promotional appearance, when he suffered a third-round TKO loss to Derrick Lewis at UFC 229. The 30-year-old Russian owns a 30-7 career mark that includes wins over the likes of Fabricio Werdum, Stefan Struve, Roy Nelson, Timothy Johnson and Blagoy Ivanov.