The UFC’s lightweight division is as stacked as its ever been. There’s a mile long line of athletic and explosive killers all vying for a shot at Anthony Pettis’ championship strap, and many are more than qualified.
With that being said, people are sleeping on Bobby Green who fights veteran Jim Miller at UFC 172 in Baltimore on Apr. 26. But at 22-5 riding a seven fight win streak, they shouldn’t be.
A crossover from the Strikeforce FC acquisition, Green has already made an immediate impression on the UFC 155-pound landscape.
In his first outing under the UFC banner, Bobby “King” Green shocked some fans as he finished former University of Minnesota wrestler and dangerous submission artist Jacob Volkmann in a “Submission of the Night” performance with a rear-naked-choke late in the third round of their back and forth affair at UFC 156.
Green’s next showing at UFC Fight Night 31: Fight for the Troops 3 last November against James Krause, though it ended in victory, was marred by controversy as several of his kicks on Krause strayed dangerously low, causing a point to be deducted from Green; before another shot to the belt line, that was deemed legal, ended the fight.
Just 38 days later, Green stepped into the cage again at UFC on FOX 9 against fellow Strikeforce veteran Pat Healy, and this time “King” left no question marks or asterisks by taking home a unanimous decision victory over the grinding wrestler.
On paper this should have been one of most difficult matchups stylistically for Green in the lightweight division, as Pat “Bam Bam” Healy is known for using his superior conditioning, grappling and iron chin too break dynamic and explosive fighters, but Green wasn’t having it.
The visibly faster Green picked apart the lumbering Healy in a grueling three-round battle with a laser beam jab and stinging crosses as he regularly switched stances and employed beautiful head movement to keep Healy frustrated. Maybe even more impressive than his fluid boxing and constant pressure on the feet was his conditioning and ability to spring back up after being taken down by the imposing wrestler. He even took down Healy himself on three occasions.
Green has already shown he has the skill and athleticism to make a stand-up battle against him an undesirable option for his opponents, but this fight proved trying to wear down the veteran of 27 professional fights is not the solution either.
His next opponent and a veteran of 15 UFC fights, Jim Miller, will present many of the same challenges as his last foe Pat Healy. A former Virginia Tech Hokie wrestler, Miller is an incredibly tough and aggressive fighter with a dangerous submission arsenal and an endless gas tank. Like Healy, he will likely attempt to drag Green into deep waters and finish him on the ground.
Green should look to employ a similar style, utilizing his speed advantage and footwork to stay outside of his opponent’s range. It would also not be surprising if Green, like in the Healy fight, abandoned his kicks for the most part, using a boxing centered style of attack to keep the grappling minded Miller from getting in on his legs and dragging the fight to the mat.
Green’s lightning hand speed and ability to use his movement to keep opponents from effectively setting up take-downs should be enough to keep the durable Miller off of his game and possibly even produce a finish for the No. 14 lightweight in the world.
It is clear that Green is improving with every outing and at only 27 years of age, “King” looks like he has put all the pieces together.
Should Green get by Miller at UFC 172 later this month, it will be interesting to see who Joe Silva and the UFC matchmakers decide to pair the explosive striker against. Coincidentally, fellow lightweight dynamos Donald Cerrone and Edson Barboza will square off the week before at UFC on FOX Saturday: Werdum vs. Browne, to see who will continue the climb up the 155 ladder.
A match-up between Green and the winner of Cerrone vs. Barbazo could produce huge fireworks and leapfrog the winner into title contention. Green is a force to be reckoned with at 155 pounds, and the rest of the division should take notice.