Green (29-12-1 MMA, 10-7-1 UFC) is not one to mince words, as he said Makhachev (21-1 MMA, 10-1 UFC) doesn’t “respect” him going into Saturday’s 160-pound catchweight headliner at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The entire card streams on ESPN+.
That mentality doesn’t necessarily go both ways, though. Green knows exactly the task he has in front of him this weekend, and although he doesn’t think too highly of Makhachev’s approach to the fight game, he can’t deny the talent his opponent brings to the octagon.
“Is he championship material? He’s been really downplaying me, and I’m going to keep it 100 for you: He’s a good opponent,” Green told MMA Junkie at Wednesday’s UFC Fight Night 202 media day. “I think he’s definitely – he’s been on this win-streak. He is championship material if you’re talking about wins – if you’re talking about just wins. But I feel like when it comes to this MMA stuff, it’s what product you’re selling … We’re all selling something, and the public is going to buy the best thing they can find.
“With Islam, he does what he does. But to be honest, it’s kind of boring. Even if he’s getting finishes, it’s still been boring. So my whole thing is entertainment, excitement. He can be championship material, but it’s just f*cking boring. Nobody wants to see it. Nobody cares. I fall asleep watching his fights, then it’s, ‘Oh, there’s the finish.’ They can show a bunch of finishes and it’s cool, but it was sleeping and boring and it’s lackluster. For some of these guys, it’s just a match.”
Green will attempt to do what Makhachev’s past nine opponents have failed to do by stopping the tenacious Dagestani in his tracks at UFC Fight Night 202.
It’s much easier said than done, though. Makhachev’s offensive wrestling is overwhelming, and he’s displayed strong striking defense on the feet during his streak. What makes the challenge even greater for Green, too, is that he took this fight on 10 days’ notice after original headliner Beneil Dariush suffered an injury.
Green doesn’t think he was the UFC’s first choice to serve as a replacement, especially since he’s fresh off a unanimous decision win over Nasrat Haqparast at UFC 271 on Feb. 12. Making a two-week turnaround isn’t ideal, but Green said he has to take the opportunity when it was presented.
“My manager called me and he’s like, ‘Hey, Islam needs a fight,’” Green said. “Once he said that I was already like 195 pounds. I was like, ‘You want me to get to ’55 in 10 days? This is nuts.’ I’d just got in a fight. I still got some of the scars from the last one. I was supposed to get my girl surgery, she was supposed to get surgery actually the next day. So we were prepping that night for her surgery the next day, then the call comes in and I’m going, ‘Hm, I know a lot of people got the call before me. Where are those guys at? Why didn’t they step up?’ Because to be honest, I just got off. I just got out of the cage and they’re going to throw me in again? I guess you guys are being little b*thces, so f*ck, I’ll do it. Let me show you how I do this sh*t. Snatch that sh*t and I’ll go ahead. Get me paid, and I’ll do it.”
If Green is able to pull off the upset against Makhachev, it would greatly enhance his stock in the lightweight division. Green has been around the fight game for well over a decade, fighting for the likes of Affliction, Strikeforce, the UFC and more.
Within the past few fights, Green has emerged as a fan favorite, and his personality and style have connected with the fanbase in a way that didn’t exist before. It’s what led him to this big fight on Saturday, and if he could win, a whole new scope of possibilities will open up.
Green said his personal goals haven’t changed, though. He’s always made it clear he’s a prizefighter who places more importance on activity and paydays rather than climbing the rankings. He could get everything he wants with a win here, but Green’s mentality still won’t shift from what’s made it to this point.
“It’s the same thing to this day, ain’t nothing changes: My intentions, my goal, my pursuit,” Green said. “I never cared about the title and if it didn’t come or came, it wouldn’t matter. I wouldn’t be thinking about it. If they want to honor me with that, cool. My thing is, keep the money coming and keep my activity going.”
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