In describing the last two years, Gabe Green uses the word “annoying.” It’s not that he’s complaining about going from regional standout to UFC welterweight, but for someone accustomed to multiple fights per year, getting just two bouts in since his debut in May 2020 isn’t how he pictured things.
“Hopefully I can get three minimum,” said the San Pedro, California native, who makes his first start of 2022 on Saturday against Yohan Lainesse. “I love fighting so much and these last couple years have been just annoying with the fact that I've only been able to get one. I'm used to fighting six times a year. I want to get at least three.”
Life does get in the way, though, especially the fighting life, so injuries and PRK surgery have kept “Gifted Gabe” sidelined since he scored his first UFC win over Phil Rowe in February 2021. Not ideal, but hey, at least he’s got some 20/20 vision for the first time in a long time, and he expects to put it to good use as he attempts to hand Canada’s Lainesse his first pro loss.
“He doesn't expect to lose and I'm gonna definitely give him that,” said Green. “I'm just gonna welcome him to the UFC wholeheartedly and show him how this next level actually is. I fought a couple guys that were undefeated in my day and I was able to give them Ls and he's just gonna be the next one on the list.”
But does he like being the bearer of bad news to undefeated foes?
“Someone's gotta do it, so it might as well be me,” he laughs.
Green didn’t get to experience 8-0 and getting to the UFC the way Lainesse has, only making it to 3-0 before losing his next two. But since his 3-2 start, the 28-year-old has gone 7-1, with the only loss coming in his short notice Octagon debut against Daniel Rodriguez. And after that competitive decision defeat, he was done with losing.
“No one likes to lose,” Green said. “It's terrible. It's a disgusting taste that leaves in your mouth. I got back and was like, this is it. No more losses. We're just gonna keep on winning from here.”
He got that winning feeling back against Rowe, but that doesn’t mean he’s satisfied.
“I'm my biggest critic,” he said. “Even after the Rowe fight, I was in the little transport from the APEX to the hotel and I was just thinking about everything I did wrong in the fight. And that was with a win. So after a loss, I'm really chewing my own ass off, going through everything. I'm pretty hard on myself because it cuts deep. We sacrifice so much to go in there and fight, so to not get your hand raised, it's one of the worst things that can happen to you. And then on the other side, getting your hand raised is the most amazing feeling in the world.”
Like they say, it’s the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, and the slightest misstep can turn a fight from heaven to hell. It’s not for the faint of heart. So why do it?
“It's competition at its rawest,” Green said. “It's me enforcing my will on someone else who's trying to enforce their will on me. It's something super simple but it's kind of beautiful and poetic at the same time.
“The idea of leaving a legacy behind and putting my little mark on the world and being remembered is pretty dope, too,” he continues. “But that's more of an afterthought. I, more than anything, love that I get to test myself against someone who's trying to test themselves, too.”