When Michael Corleone “settled all family business” at the end of the first Godfather film one of those on the receiving end was Moe Greene.
On Saturday in Wichita, another Moe Greene, Minnesota heavyweight Maurice Greene, gets to reverse things and settle his own family business when he fights Jeff Hughes.
“It’s so I can move on to bigger and better things,” said Greene, who lost a five-round decision to Hughes in their first fight in April 2018.
That LFA title fight, which snapped a four-fight winning streak and dropped Greene’s pro record to 5-2, could have been a crushing blow, but instead, it opened the door for “The Crochet Boss” to go on season 28 of The Ultimate Fighter while Hughes earned a spot on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series that ultimately earned him a UFC contract.
So where would Greene be right now if he beat Hughes last year?
“I still think I follow the same path, to be honest with you,” he said. “That (TUF) would have been my path or I would have got on the Contender Series, which would have been cool, but I don’t think it would have done as much as The Ultimate Fighter did for my career.”
And here’s where we continue the settling family business theme. Once on TUF, Greene worked hard but also knew that being a personality plays a big role in building a fan base and a career. So he became a polarizing figure on the show, which wasn’t exactly how he planned it, but it did get him noticed and got him a fight on the finale event against former Olympian Michel Batista. Greene knew he had one night to get it right, and he did, submitting Batista in a little over two minutes.
“It’s not a surprise to me that I was able to finish by triangle choke; that’s one of my go-tos,” said Greene. “But once that fight was over, that chapter of The Ultimate Fighter, that young, hungry guy trying to get to the UFC, that chapter’s closed.”
As for the next one, Greene got his pen out and started writing when Daniel Spitz was forced out of Saturday’s bout with Hughes due to injury. It was the perfect opportunity to cross another item off his list and settle an old score.
“I saw it (the Batista fight) as a job interview and I had to go out and get the job,” he said. “Well, I got the job and I feel like this is my UFC debut. I did enough to impress my employers to say, ‘You know what, give this guy a shot and let’s see what he has.’ But this fight’s my debut and it means more to me because this one I want back. In so many ways I lost that fight myself – I played into his distance and played into his game for five rounds. So I have to go out there and show myself in a different light and show everybody I can strike and not try to make it a wrestling match like I did before.
“This chapter is called staying in the UFC and trying to slowly cement a legacy for myself and my family and things like that,” Greene continues. “There’s still a lot of work to be done and still much more to prove. There’s not a number by my name; I’m not ranked, so there’s still work to be done, but some of the pressure is over. It’s kind of like (Francis) Ngannou said – they put too much pressure on him and it made him freeze and he said I’m just gonna go out there and have fun and fight.”
And while Greene wants to get some get back from his opponent this weekend, this isn’t one of those bad blood matchups. Yeah, we’ll go back to The Godfather and say that this is business, not personal.
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“I like the chess match of what we do,” Greene said. “I don’t have to be mad to fight somebody. This is my job. This is two guys going out putting their application in for a job. You’re gonna say all the right things to get that job, and I’m gonna say the right things too. The only thing we’re doing is using our tools - our fists, our knees, our elbows - to get those jobs.”
If TUF or his first win in the Octagon didn’t convince you, the 33-year-old is willing to put in the work and deliver the performances to prove that he is the future of the heavyweight division, and eventually, he plans on leaving no doubts. In the meantime, it’s like TUF; just tune in and see what Maurice Greene does next.
That’s an offer we can’t refuse.
“I’ve got to go out and prove that not only am I a big heavyweight but I can go out and win fights against tough opponents,” said the 6-foot-7 Greene. “And to be that star, you have to be more than a good fighter. But that’s natural for me and I can do that all day. So for me, it’s just getting in there and mixing it up and using all my tools and showing that not only is this guy someone that they can market, but he may be one of the greats.”