Despite it being on two-and-a-half weeks’ notice, Maurice Greene jumped at the opportunity to fight Jeff Hughes at UFC on ESPN+ 4 this Saturday.
Hughes’ original opponent, Daniel Spitz, suffered an injury that forced him out of the fight. Greene, aka “The Crochet Boss,” who lost to Hughes at LFA 38 in April 2018 for the LFA heavyweight championship, said “hell yeah, let’s run it back,” at the opportunity.
Greene feels he’s improved everywhere since that fight. He competed on Season 28 of The Ultimate Fighter, where he was a member of Kelvin Gastelum’s team. The area he feels he’s had the most substantial improvement in is his wrestling.
“Wrestling is always going to be my pain point so until I’m good at it, I’m going to wrestle all the time,” Greene told MMASucka. “I think it’s really important in this day in age to be well-rounded.”
Since the loss to Hughes, Greene went 1-1 on TUF: Heavy Hitters. In his UFC debut, he drew former Olympic wrestler and fellow TUF 28 competitor Michel Batista. He showcased his ground improvements with a first-round triangle choke over Batista.
While Greene is high on the improvements he’s made, he doesn’t feel like Hughes has changed much. After his win over Greene, Hughes earned a shot on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series and stopped Josh Appelt at the end of the first round. To Greene, Hughes is still the heavy striker and good counter-puncher he went to a decision with at LFA 38.
“I don’t think he looks any better now than he did when I fought him,” Greene said. “I watched him when we were in the House on the Contender Series and he looked like the same old Jeff Hughes. There’s nothing special about him.”
Greene, who’s 32, made it clear that he believes he doesn’t have much time left in the sport. As a result, he wants a top-15 opponent as soon as possible and to make a swift ascent up the heavyweight rankings. However, he said a win over Hughes wouldn’t do much for him in that regard; he just wants to beat him in the rematch.
“I think it’s more of a pride thing for me,” Greene said. “Who’s Hughes right now? He’s a nobody. He’s just another bump in the road for me to get more experience in the UFC. I have respect for him outside of the cage, but to be honest to you, he’s a fucking nobody to me.”
Greene, one of the larger personalities to come off his season of TUF (which he dubbed “The Crochet Boss Show”), believes he’s on the path to being a star for the UFC. He doesn’t feel the same about Hughes, which adds to his motivation to win.
“He’s good, I just don’t think he’s UFC caliber,” Greene said. “It takes an interesting package to be a UFC superstar, and Jeff don’t got it. I’m a bigger man than Hughes. He’s not gonna sell out a fight. He might not even make the top-10 as long as he’s a UFC heavyweight, honestly. There’s nothing special about him, he’s just like every other guy. He doesn’t got that ‘it’ factor. That’s how I feel, and I’ll say that to his face.
“He’s a cool dude, he’s really nice, he’s humble. I’m humble myself even though people don’t think so, I’m very humble. But to me, he’s a nobody. He’s just another guy with a good record who got on the Contender Series because of his record. He hits hard; whoop-de-doo, we all hit hard. What’s he really going to do in the UFC? He’s not marketable. He’s just going to fight in the UFC to get that off his bucket list, to say he’s fought in the UFC.”
Greene said he intends to enter the rematch with the same game-plan he had going into the duo’s title fight. This time, though, he’ll follow it.
“I didn’t do the game plan I set out to do,” Greene said. “I lost that title fight, [Hughes] didn’t beat me. He won that night but I lost that title fight myself.”
Greene is looking forward to showcasing his evolution, saying he’s improved leaps and bounds. Hughes is just another opponent in the way of his goal of being the UFC heavyweight champion.
“The Crochet Boss” wanted to thank his fans for remaining with him “through thick and thin” after TUF 28.
“The Ultimate Fighter, I feel like they did a number to me,” he said. “They didn’t make me look great, but it is reality television. I want to tell them thank you for believing in me and sticking in there with me. There’s much more things to come. We’ll make the heavyweight division great again.”
As for Hughes, Greene said that if a chance to finish him arises in their rematch, he will end him.
“Either way it goes down, I’m spoiling his debut. He’s going to come in with the humble experience and just be that guy; nobody wants to hear that shit. I’m there to spoil his fucking debut. Unfortunately for him, it’s even more important to me to spoil his debut just to kind of show people that I lost that fight myself and it wasn’t something that Jeff Hughes did because he’s a mediocre, normal dude. That’s enough about him. It’s the Crochet Boss Show as it always is.”
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