Makhachev hopes to close the case for a UFC title shot, while Green hopes to upset the status quo
Islam Makhachev and Bobby Green prepare for five rounds of mayhem with title implications at UFC Fight Night on Saturday night. Makhachev is campaigning for a UFC title shot, while Green steps in on short notice to scuttle those plans at UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Makhachev (21-1) is determined to dispel any doubt that he’s next in line for a shot at the UFC lightweight championship. Many considered his showdown with Beneil Dariush to be a title eliminator. Dariush was forced to pull out of the bout due to injury and now the optics are different. A win by any means may not be enough to absolutely secure Makhachev a title shot against the winner of Charles Oliveira vs. Justin Gaethje. Makhachev must exert his will against Green, a short-notice replacement known mostly for his boxing. Makhachev, a dominant grappler, enters on a nine-fight winning streak with five finishes.
“Of course, because it’s going to be my 10-fight win streak, and I really think this is key to the title fight,” Makhachev told reporters at Wednesday’s media day. “I think Oliveira is going to beat Justin Gaethje, and [it will be] an 11-fight win streak against 10 wins. It’s going to be a great fight for all my fans.
“I have to finish Bobby Green, in the first round, and I’m going to do it.”
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Green (29-12-1) has a chance to make a huge splash in MMA history. He’s a huge underdog heading into Saturday night. Green accepted the bout on two weeks’ notice after a three-round fight on Feb. 12 at UFC 271 against a completely different style opponent and would rather stand and trade than win the fight no matter the method. In a classic modern striker vs. grappler showdown, Green has his hands full with Makhachev.
UFC Fight Night viewing information
Date: Feb. 26 | Start time: 7 p.m. ET
Location: UFC Apex — Las Vegas, Nevada
Islam Makhachev vs Bobby Green: This is a worst-case scenario for Green in terms of style matchups. He is to be commended for taking the fight on short notice, but I doubt Green can beat Makhachev even with a full training camp. Green, by his own admission, is more attracted to staging exciting fights than winning championships. Combat sports need fighters like Green, but that guiding principle doesn’t often coincide with what it takes to compete at the sport’s highest level. Makhachev’s offensive grappling is a difficult puzzle to solve. A fighter focused on boxing and more concerned with entertaining than winning by any means is not the answer to Makhachev’s conundrum. Makhachev has insisted that a first round finish is necessary. Given the short notice pairing, I expect Makhachev to take extra time and get a read on Green’s timing. Pick: Makahchev via SUB2