After defeating Phil Rowe and Yohan Lainesse, Gabe Green was being dubbed “The Prospect Killer” before his UFC 276 bout with Ian Machado Garry. Now he’s matched up with North Carolina’s Bryan Battle in North Carolina this weekend. Is he “The Bad Guy” now?
“I think it's impossible for me to be a bad guy,” laughs the Californian, and he’s right in the real-life sense, but as far as being the visitor fighting the hometown hero, that’s something entirely different, and yeah, this won’t be the first time he’s been in this situation.
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“I had to go to Hawaii and fight a guy over there,” Green said of a 2016 bout with Randon Abafo. “The whole island was yelling at me.”
Green admits that everything was cool with his opponent’s fans after the bout, and moving forward, he’s learned that when it all comes down to it, a fight’s a fight, no matter where it takes place.
“I don't think it matters too much,” he said. “I'm actually very blessed in that wherever I go, I get a good handful of people that come with me outside of my corners. A couple of my cousins and good friends and aunts and uncles are going to come out, so there's going to be like 15 of the closest people in my life out there with me. So, as far as I'm concerned, I'm always fighting at home.”
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Some of us don’t even know 15 people, let alone 15 who are willing to travel to fights to cheer you on, so that must be a good feeling for “Gifted” Gabe.
“They weren't super big fans of me doing it in the beginning, but even though they weren't, that doesn't mean that they weren't out there for every fight,” he said. “They still made it out to everything. And like I said, they weren't very big fans of it, but I think they were just more worried about me. They didn't want to see me get hurt. But if you look at my past fights, for the most part, I win more than I lose. So it was pretty easy to go, ‘You know what? He's kind of good at this thing. Maybe we don't got to worry about him so much.”
That comfort wherever he puts on his gloves has been evident in the 30-year-old’s four trips to the Octagon thus far. Despite joining the UFC roster with just 11 pro fights in 2020, he’s picked up the two wins over Rowe and Lainesse and was competitive in two decision losses to Daniel Rodriguez and Machado Garry, proving that the talent is there; all that he needs is more of the world-class experience he’s getting now. So when his opponent for this weekend’s card in Charlotte changed from Jake Matthews to Battle, Green didn’t blink.
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“I just went, okay, this is the guy I'm fighting now,” he said. “When I was going to fight Matthews, it was cool. I was excited for it. Then he got hurt and he was actually really cool about it. He messaged me and gave me the heads up saying that he had to pull out. I was like, oh, no worries. We ended up following each other on Instagram and then they offered me Bryan Battle and I was like, all right, cool. This is the next guy. I was a little familiar with him, looked him up a little bit more and I said, oh yeah, this is going to be fun.”
See, you can’t call Gabe Green a bad guy. And though there have been more than a few matchups with real animosity over the years, for the most part, the fighters in the UFC are simply athletes who love to compete. Business, not personal.
“I think that the general consensus of the population is that we all hate each other and we're all a bunch of angry guys that need some anger management to blow off some steam or something. Me, I love everybody and I'm trying to become friends with everybody. I have no problem competing because that's what it is. It's a fight, but it's competition. Let's find out who's better. I don't need to be all angry and hate you to find out that I'm better than you. It's the closest thing to real fighting, but it’s a sport that I'm trying to be considered - hopefully one day, God willing - the greatest at. So I'm out there training my butt off just to test myself, to see what I can do and I’ve got no ill will towards anybody. I'm out there just trying to perform.”
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And there’s no bigger stage than the one he’s on. As for becoming the greatest the sport has ever seen, the beautiful thing about the sport is that if he keeps fighting, winning and evolving, why not? Anderson Silva was 17-4 before he debuted in the UFC and got the G.O.A.T. discussion going, right? So, at the very least, Green is in the game, and that’s the start he wants.
“A lot of guys have all these plans and stuff, but they never even get on the board,” Green said. “I'm at least on the board right now and that's cool. I'm going to keep on doing whatever I can and just leave it up to the Lord more than anything. If that's what I'm meant to be, if that's the place where I'm meant to be, then I'm going to do everything I can. And then if it's meant to be, then it's going to happen.”
UFC Fight Night: Rozenstruik vs Almeida took place live from the Spectrum Center in Charlotte on May 13, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!
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