For Desmond Green, a short turnaround is worth the effort for the chance to fight in front of a home crowd.
“The Predator” is coming off of a first-round TKO win over the newly-retired Ross Pearson, his first stoppage victory in the UFC. Just a month and a half later, he’ll step into the cage with UFC debutant Charles Jourdain at UFC Fight Night 152 in Rochester, New York on Saturday, May 18.
The Rochester native will be looking to feed off the energy of his hometown crowd in order to put together his first UFC winning streak.
Before his fight, Green talked to John Hyon Ko of The Body Lock about his evolution as a fighter, past issues with opponents and what it’s like to finally enjoy home-field advantage in the UFC.
Flipping the switch
Heading into his most recent fight against Pearson, Desmond Green owned a 2-3 record in the UFC. All five fights had gone to the judges’ scorecards, and while he felt he was a victim of home cooking for some of his losses, Green knew he had to change something.
His family, friends, and coaches at Hard Knocks 365 sensed that something was missing in his game, so in the six months between his fights with Mairbek Taisumov and Pearson, Green went to work, trying to find the missing piece.
Somewhere along the way, he found “it.” While he can’t exactly describe what that factor was, Green felt a change in himself. He proved it, to himself and to the world, when he came out confident and stopped a veteran in one round.
“[The performance] was [an] accumulation of my past losses that [were] decisions out of the country and me just becoming more confident and just more of a fighter as a whole,” Green told The Body Lock.
Green believes that his win over Pearson could serve as a turning point for his career as he seeks title contention in the near future.
“You’re going to see very few decisions out of me from here on out,” Green said. “I learned how to flip that switch in there and, you know, just really let loose with all my tools.”
Desmond Green’s return home
Desmond Green’s quick finish made his short turnaround possible.
“I was so quick, and the shots were so precise and accurate,” Green said. “I didn’t take a lot of damage. I didn’t hurt myself at all.”
Green pleaded for a chance to get on the UFC’s card in Rochester. He even offered to fight for free in his post-fight speech in the cage, showing just how badly he yearned for the opportunity.
“If they would’ve said you’ve got to go up to welterweight, I would’ve did it, and if they said you’ve got to go down to featherweight, I would have did it,” Green said. “I just needed [to be] on this card.”
A few weeks later, he got his wish. He was booked to welcome Jourdain to the promotion.
“I’m always fighting in somebody else’s backyard. I’m always the underdog; I’m always coming in hostile territory,” Green said. “This will be the first time where I’m actually like at home, home.”
“The Predator” had a successful camp. He put in endless rounds of sparring in order to improve on his cardio, which he now says is “better than it’s ever been”.
Containing his excitement has been the biggest challenge he has faced leading up to Saturday.
“Every day I wake up, bro, I swear it’s like Christmas,” Green explained. “I’m counting down the days. I’m just happy. Even when I’m sore: I’m sore as hell, stepping out of bed, limping, but I’m just like ‘Yes, soon, soon I’ll be able to, like, just finally live out my dream.”
Green visualizes the pop he’ll hear from his fans once he finally gets his chance to enter the octagon and perform.
“The scream and the roar in the audience is gonna go so crazy when I come out, and even crazier when I finish this guy,” he said. “You better believe I’m getting a finish.”
Looking back on his start in the UFC, Desmond Green is still frustrated by his losses. Defeats at the hands of Michel Prazeres and the aforementioned Taisumov are the most difficult for him to accept, due to the circumstances.
Prazeres weighed in five pounds over the non-championship lightweight limit of 156 pounds for his fight with Green. Coincidentally, Taisumov would come in at the same weight seven months later when Green was set to face off against him. Both times, Green accepted the fight. Both times, he lost via unanimous decision.
Taisumov went on to test positive for metabolites of the performance-enhancing drug stanozolol in a sample collected the day of the fight.
“I knew this motherf**ker was juicing,” Green said. “That’s why he couldn’t get down the weight.”
Taisumov’s suspension was reduced to six months after the positive test was found to have been produced by a contaminated supplement. Green doesn’t buy the ruling, however.
“I don’t believe that tainted supplement thing,” Green said. “We get a clear list of what we’re allowed to take and what we’re not… The stuff he was taking, it was sold in Thailand or whatever and it didn’t have labels on it. Why are you taking something with no labels on it, bro? Like, that just doesn’t even make sense. You’re a professional athlete.”
Green still wants the result of that fight overturned to a no contest, but the next best thing for him would be a rematch. Green and his manager have discussed possibly being on UFC 242, and they would have no problem signing the dotted line to face Taisumov on that card.
Charles Jourdain and the pursuit of a top-15 opponent
Right now, all Desmond Green is focused on is the present. He has a 23-year-old up-and-comer looking to spoil his homecoming at UFC Fight Night 152.
Green’s scouting of Jourdain led him to the conclusion that Jourdain is a tough opponent, but he won’t be able to handle Green’s well-rounded skill set.
“I’m going to show him like there’s real levels to this,” Green said. “He may be UFC ready, but he’s not, like, that ‘top-tier’ ready.”
Within those levels, “The Predator” hopes to make his move into the upper-echelon of the deep lightweight division. His eyes are locked onto gold, but there are a few names he’d like to take out on the way up the ladder.
“I wanna fight Justin Gaethje,” Green said. “Number one, because he beat my teammate, [Michael Johnson,] and, you know, just want a little revenge out of that, but two because I like the way he fights.”
Shane Connelly is a journalism student at Penn State with a passion for sharing the stories of MMA fighters.