Greg Hardy’s UFC debut couldn’t have looked much worse, but it wasn’t all bad for the controversial heavyweight.

The ex-NFL star was disqualified Saturday night after connecting an illegal knee strike on Allen Crowder in Round 2 of their UFC Fight Night 143 bout at Barclay’s Center. It was the first time that Hardy, who entered the night 3-0 in his professional MMA career, made it to the second round of a fight.

Hardy exited the octagon to deafening jeers and taunts from the sellout crowd in Brooklyn.

(You can click here to watch video of the incident.)

Many are looking at the illegal knee, coupled with Hardy’s alleged history of domestic abuse, and saying the 30-year-old doesn’t deserve another shot in the UFC. But Dana White doesn’t see it that way.

“One thing that I did learn about Hardy tonight — he can fight,” the UFC president said after Fight Night 143, which was the first UFC event broadcast on ESPN/ESPN+. “He can fight, he’s an athlete. Not only can he punch hard, but he can take a big punch. … He got out of trouble on the ground several times, and he learned a lot tonight.

” … He’ll get another fight. You know, he made a really big rookie mistake, and it cost him an L tonight.”

Thumbnail photo via Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports Images