Risk Analysis Alert: The pros and cons of Bobby Green stepping in to face Islam Makhachev

Maybe you’ve noticed already, but Bobby Green seems to be having himself a moment. In his tenth year with the UFC, most of which has been spent knocking around the middle of the pack, beating the lesser-knowns and losing to the good fighters, it’s like Indiana Jones just yanked Green out of a booby-trapped cave, blew some ancient dust off him, and held him up to the light so we could see how he sparkles.

First, Green knocked out MMA’s favorite realtor, Al Iaquinta, at UFC 268 in November. Then on Saturday he won a unanimous decision over Nasrat Haqparast at UFC 271 in a fight that actually had fans in the Toyota Center chanting his name, which isn’t something that’s happened for him all that often.

Now? He’s reportedly stepping in to face Islam Makhachev in the main event of the February 26 UFC Fight Night card, following the injury withdrawal of Beneil Dariush. For Green, who seems to have verbally accepted the bout on Wednesday, that means he’s basically agreed to go five rounds with a top lightweight up-and-comer just two weeks after going three rounds with an unranked also-ran. He’s also coming in as about a 6-1 underdog, according to early odds, so you kind of have to wonder whether or not it’s a good idea for him to put his hand up for this assignment.

Fortunately, CME Consulting Services LLC is here to do a little analysis of the potential risks and rewards. And because we like Bobby, we won’t even ask for our Venmo fee upfront this time.

PRO: This is easily the biggest fight and most high-profile opponent Green has had in at least five years, if not ever. Makhachev is currently ranked no. 4 in the UFC’s lightweight division. Green is … not anywhere on those rankings. He’s fought a couple people who are on there – Dustin Poirier, Rafael Fiziev – but he lost those fights. Should he fuck around and beat Makhachev, it would instantly put him on the lightweight map in a way he’s never really been before in his entire career.

CON: There is a reason Makhachev is ranked that highly and Green isn’t. Makhachev is really goddamn good. He’s only lost one fight in his pro career – a knockout against Adriano Martins in his second UFC fight – and he’s won nine straight since then. Chances are he will win this fight, which would snap the two-fight winning streak Green has going for him right now, thus halting this newfound momentum almost as soon as he’s discovered it.

PRO: Maybe this is one of those rare moments when a short-notice fight actually works in favor of the guy who’s stepping in at the last minute. Think about it, Green just fought and won. So he’s probably in shape, reasonably close to the weight, and still riding that confidence boost that comes from victory. He’s also got a tricky striking style that Makhachev won’t have a ton of time to prepare for. If Green gets a chance to do his stuff, maybe it’ll be Makhachev who struggles to make the necessary late adjustments.

CON: Makhachev’s whole shit is denying other people the chance to do their stuff. We’ve seen this. He puts people on the defensive, makes them devote all their attention to stopping his takedowns, then drags them into the dizzying spin cycle of his grappling game until they eventually get lost in the sauce and end up in a submission. He’s also been through this sort of thing very recently. Remember when Dan Hooker stepped in for an injured Rafael dos Anjos to face Makhachev at UFC 267 in October? Like Green, Hooker was making a quick turnaround after a win. Also like Green, the win he was still savoring had come against none other than Nasrat fucking Haqparast. Guess what? He made it about two and a half minutes before being submitted by Makhachev. So yeah, the precedent here ain’t great.

PRO: Bobby Green is 35 years old. He’s been at this since 2008. He is not exactly sprinting up the lightweight ladder at this point in his career. He could hang around on the middle of UFC fight cards, taking only the bouts for which he has a full training camp to prepare, and even if he won his next three or four it still probably wouldn’t get him into a main event against the no. 4 lightweight. In other words, why the fuck not take a chance here? If not now, when?

CON: Bobby Green is 35 years old. He relies on hand speed and footwork, two things that are pretty dependent on reflexes and athletic ability, neither of which tends to improve as one edges into one’s mid-thirties. Plus, you think bouncing back and making weight and showing up feeling good and ready to fight twice in two weeks is the kind of thing that gets easier as you age? Not bloody likely.

PRO: The UFC – and its fans – love a fighter who says fuck it and steps up to fight even when it’s a tough assignment on short notice. Matter of fact, the harder the fight and the shorter the notice the more they applaud the giant brass balls on the fighter who’s willing to do it. The next couple weeks will come with plenty of Bobby Green love on the ol’ MMA internets for precisely this reason, so that should be nice to bask in. And if he actually shocks us all by winning the fight? Instant legend shit. Call your own shot after that.

CON: Thing is, though, if you don’t win? All that brass balls talk evaporates pretty much instantly. Remember the Dan Hooker example mentioned above? Yeah, ain’t nobody still talking about what a G he is for taking that Makhachev fight on short notice. They’ve probably mostly forgotten about it, and that was only, what, four months ago? There’s just so many damn fights, so many events. Stuff like this gets washed away by the tide so quickly. If Green loses here – which, again, is very likely – will anyone still remember the specifics by summer?

PRO: You don’t make any money sitting on the couch, waiting for just the right offer to come through.

CON: You only make half as much money when you lose, even if the job you’re being asked to do is twice as hard.

CONCLUSION: Yeah, it’s probably worth the risk for Green at this point in his career. The upside to a longshot victory is so great, and the Fuck It, Why Not quotient is so high, that he might as well take the chance and hope for the best. He just shouldn’t expect that love from either the UFC or fans to last forever. Especially if Makhachev trucks him the way he has damn near everybody else.

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