As The Ultimate Fighter prepares to return to the universe this year, one of last season’s standouts prepares to make his eighth Octagon appearance this Saturday against Marcos Rogerio de Lima.
Eighth appearance. That should show just how long it’s been since that most recent season, but nearly three years since he was in everybody’s living room, Maurice Greene only looks back with good memories on a time in his life where he was a bit polarizing to the MMA masses.
“This is the thing about The Ultimate Fighter,” said Greene. “We talk about good or bad, but you talk about season 28 of The Ultimate Fighter, you think about 'The Crochet Boss' and that's just it. Let's be honest - there were two winners on The Ultimate Fighter, there were a lot of great people on The Ultimate Fighter, but when you think about season 28, all you think about is 'The Crochet Boss.' Whether you liked me or you didn't like me, you're still talking about me. So I'm thankful for The Ultimate Fighter and the UFC for putting me through that process. I don't think that I'd be standing here where I am today if I didn't go through that process. That was like a crash course for what we're dealing with. Fast forward almost three years later and I'm ready to be of the elite in this division. My assault on this division is gonna start May 8th and it's gonna continue.”
The heavyweight division may be the most wide open in the sport, with a couple wins capable of putting a fighter in the top 10 and a loss or two not being the end of the world. Greene has been at both ends of the spectrum, starting his UFC career off with three consecutive wins before hitting a 1-3 stretch in his last four, with the most recent loss coming against Greg Hardy last October.
It was the kind of fight against a high-profile foe that could have propelled Greene into the top 15, but it wasn’t meant to be, as a number of issues, from a training camp injury flare-up to his familiarity with the system at the Jackson-Wink MMA gym still being a work in progress, leading him to not give his best performance against the former NFL star.
The Fight Life: Maurice Greene
The Fight Life: Maurice Greene
“Physically, I felt great, but as far as knowing the calls and getting used to the Jackson-Wink way, I thought I was comfortable with it, and I just wasn't. I just needed more time and more reps with it.”
So he took that time, nearly seven months, to get better. And he believes that mission was accomplished.
“Maybe for the first time, my training is where it's supposed to be, top to bottom,” Greene said. “There's no stone I leave unturned as far as the training camp is concerned. I took seven months off so we could get back to the basics with Jackson-Wink, figure out their calls, get confident, build confidence in striking. It's been six-plus months since I fought, and in less than two years I fought seven times, so I was a very active heavyweight. So it was a nice little layoff for a very big gain, and without saying too much, everybody will see May 8th exactly what I've been working on. It will give them something to get excited about in the heavyweight division.”
“Hell no,” he laughs. “No flying armbars, but I got a triangle for you, maybe a couple knockouts.”
If Greene is hitting his peak at 34, or at least elevating his game to a new level, he’s got the potential to not just be a success in the Octagon, but to become a star in combat sports’ glamour division. He already made an impression on TUF, and more and more people are getting on board with the hobby that earned him the “Crochet Boss” nickname. He even appeared on the Tamron Hall Show recently to talk about what crocheting brings to his life. And while a change in nickname isn’t in the future, Greene has started adding coasters to his repertoire.
“They're the dopest coasters you'll ever buy, I promise you that,” said Greene, who admits that his side hustle is an essential part of his life.
“I've learned over time that I need that. I see MMA as being creative. I get a canvas, which is my opponent, and I get to paint that however I want to. I get to paint this story for 15 minutes. And sometimes when I'm not in the cage or when I'm not training or when it's not like, 'rah rah,' my coming down is I'll have a beer and I'll craft. And I figured out a strategic way for 'The Crochet Boss' to bring you coasters with my signature on the back. All hand-crafted, all unique, all one of one.”
That’s Maurice Greene, all unique, all one of one. On Saturday night, he gets a new canvas to paint.
“Not only am I in my prime, but I'm training at elevation, and I'm training with some of the best heavyweights in the world,” he said. “Day in and day out, from a big heavyweight to a small, agile heavyweight, from a good wrestler to a great striker. We've got just about everything in that room, and there's no reason why I can't go out here and make it a short night for me.”