The Evolution of Bobby Green Continues at UFC Fight Night 57

By Adam Martin

Of all the fighters in the UFC lightweight division, arguably the one who has evolved the most since entering the Octagon is Bobby “King” Green.

Before his time in the UFC, the 28-year-old American was 19-5 in the sport, which is a good record, but he lost to pretty much every “UFC caliber” fighter he had fought to that point. He was TKO’d by Tim Means in King of the Cage, he lost to JZ Cavalcante in Strikeforce, Dan Lauzon submitted him, and David Mitchell tapped him out as well.

In fact, between 2008 and 2012, the only real “quality” win on his resume was a submission victory over Daron Cruickshank. Other than that, though, his wins came over mostly mediocre opponents, and entering the UFC it’s not a surprise no one was talking about him. But since coming to the UFC, Green has been nothing but sensational, and overall his evolution has been remarkable to watch, as in less than two years he’s gone from a fighter at the bottom of the lightweight roster to one of the top-ranked 155-pounders in the sport, one who is quickly closing in on a UFC lightweight title shot.

Before entering the UFC, Green was known as a scrappy, tough fighter with a well-rounded skillset, but he was never seen as a top prospect despite running over opponents at the lower levels of the sport. He had 15 finishes before the UFC, but again, the level of competition made you wonder just how good he really could be. But since coming to the UFC, he has most definitely proved the doubters wrong.

In his first UFC fight at UFC 156, he was a huge underdog against Jacob Volkmann, but after losing the first two rounds he mounted an incredible comeback in the third round and finished the fight by submission, showing tremendous cardio and finishing instincts in the bout. Still, the fans weren’t sold on him just yet, and in his second UFC fight he was once again the underdog, this time to James Krause. But he went into the Octagon and finished Krause in the first round with a body kick, albeit in controversial fashion. Regardless, he showed remarkable improvement in his standup ability in that fight.

Following the Krause fight, I had Green as a guest on my podcast “The Parting Shot,” and he revealed that prior to the UFC he was working full-time in a warehouse, and also in a graveyard doing the night shift. It wasn’t until he beat Volkmann and captured a “Submission of the Night” bonus that he actually began to train MMA full time, and we saw in the Krause fight that once he got the chance to train like a professional, he was able to start unlocking some of his skills.

In his third UFC fight, Green was matched up against grinder Pat Healy, who despite his recent record is actually a really tough fighter and a tough guy to beat. But Green went into the cage, stopped the takedowns, used his boxing and outpointed Healy en route to a decision win to improve to 3-0 in the Octagon. And it was the win over Healy that really started to win the fans over.

However, it wasn’t until his fourth bout in the UFC, against perennial contender Josh Thomson at UFC on Fox 12, that Green really showed to the MMA world that hey, this guy might be legit. Despite entering the fight against Thomson as a huge underdog, Green once again overcame the odds, outstriking “The Punk” and taking home a split decision over Thomson to pick up the biggest win of his career by far, and finally entering the division’s top 10 rankings for the first time in his career.

Green was due to take on contender Donald Cerrone at UFC 178, but after some injury switcheroos, Green was removed from the card and booked for a lightweight fight against Edson Barboza, who he faces in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 57. Technically, as far as the rankings go, Barboza is a step down for Green from Thomson, but it’s still a top-15 opponent, and a win over Barboza would give Green a five-fight win streak, and at that point, we’ll have to start talking about Green as a title contender.

Pretty crazy, right? I mean, this is a guy who almost lost to Volkmann just last year, and now he could be one or two wins away from a title shot. The evolution of Green has been amazing to watch, and after once being an afterthought in the lightweight division, he’s now one of the top fighters to watch for in the weight class, a guy who could potentially be fighting for a title within the next year. And now that he’s training with the Diaz Brothers in Stockton, California, look for even more improvements when he takes on Barboza this weekend at UFC Fight Night 57.

UFC Fight Night 57

Bobby Green vs. Edson Barboza

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UFC Fight Night 57 is due to take place on November 22, 2014 at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.

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