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Bobby Green Focused On Defending His Throne

“King” Discusses His Earlier 2023 Successes As He Readies To Face Fellow Inland Empire Native Jalin Turner On Saturday Night In Austin

Eight years ago, in a conference room at the Horseshoe Bay Resort just outside of Austin, Texas, Bobby Green paced back and forth in front of a UFC backdrop, offering up an impassioned plea for the limited media members in attendance to tell his story correctly and present him as a man bent on bringing entertainment to the Octagon and positivity to the people around him.

Bobby Green Fight Week Interview | UFC Austin
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Bobby Green Fight Week Interview | UFC Austin
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“I was pacing around like that?” Green said on Tuesday afternoon, cackling as he asked his question, back in the Texas capital to face off with Jalin Turner in the co-main event of this weekend’s UFC return to the Moody Center.

RELATED: Austin Main Event Spotlight

He was the co-main event on that card, too, positioned opposite Edson Barboza after winning each of his first four appearances inside the Octagon to push his overall winning streak to eight. A crossover from the Strikeforce acquisition who was fresh off a victory over that promotion’s former champion Josh Thomson, “King” felt like he was being miscast in the media and misidentified by fans that couldn’t see past his style to see the substance from which he is made.

“I don’t remember that, but I remember feeling that feeling of trying my best and nobody seeing me,” he said, reflecting on that previous trip to Austin all these years later. “So to still be here, still trying to push that and finally it’s coming through? It’s a blessing; the work is paying off.”

It’s funny how time can play tricks on you, make you forget things that happened in the past.

The Always Authentic Bobby Green | UFC Austin
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The Always Authentic Bobby Green | UFC Austin
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Green was ranked and ascending at that time, but he dropped that bout to Barboza, followed it with additional setbacks against Dustin Poirier and Rashid Magomedov, and then fought Lando Vannata to a split draw to produce a four-fight run without a victory that dispatched him to the background of the lightweight division.

He’s had a couple other little runs since — a trio of victories during the pandemic in 2020 before dropping a close fight with Thiago Moises; dynamite showings against Al Iaquinta and Nasrat Haqparast that resulted in a short-notice main event opposite current champ Islam Makhachev — but despite his standing as a certified truth machine in the deepest divisions in the UFC, recognition of what he brings to the table and where he stands in the division has often escaped Green, and you can tell from speaking with him that those old wounds have been slow to heal.

MORE UFC AUSTIN: Fight By Fight Preview | Reasons To Watch | Fighters On The Rise

The veteran enters Saturday’s contest on a two-fight winning streak, having turned in consecutive tremendous showings opposite Tony Ferguson and Grant Dawson, having put the former to sleep with an arm-triangle choke in July before dispatching the latter in just 33 seconds at the start of October.

Those efforts garnered Green a pair of Performance of the Night bonuses, and universal praise from his contemporaries, yet the somewhat scarred fighter is still propelled forward by the critiques and negative comments he encounters online.

 Bobby Green punches Grant Dawson in a lightweight fight during the UFC Fight Night weigh-in at UFC APEX on October 07, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Al Powers/Zuffa LLC)
Bobby Green punches Grant Dawson in a lightweight fight during the UFC Fight Night weigh-in at UFC APEX on October 07, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Al Powers/Zuffa LLC)

“Maybe I’m just kind of used to seeing the negative side because this fight, I’m coming for my respect,” began Green when asked about the outpouring of recognition that followed his sudden dispatching of Dawson back in the fall. “I normally say ‘the money,’ but now I’m saying ‘the respect’ because I still see people saying I’m gonna get knocked out, I’m gonna get finished.

“Maybe they don’t know who I am yet, so I still gotta earn some more (respect); there is still some work to be done,” he added, clarifying that he was speaking exclusively about folks on social media and not his fellow fighters.

Amongst his peers, Green has almost universal respect, with this weekend’s bout with Turner providing a perfect example of how others in the game view the 47-fight veteran.

Closing Out The 2023 With A Bang

When Turner was first approached about replacing the injured Dan Hooker this weekend, the 28-year-old declined, as he and Green are from the same area and he’d come up watching Green do his thing.

“That’s big, that’s dope, and I respect him, too,” he said when informed of Turner’s explanation for why he initially declined the opportunity before sharing a memory of an early interaction between the two.

“I was actually trying to take him under my wing at some point in time, make sure that he was getting some different looks, make sure I put my hands on him, say, ‘this is what you can expect, this is what you need.’ Jalin ended up being late — he didn’t call me — so I ended up getting pissed off and said, ‘F*** this guy! I’m not teaching this guy!’

“Now here we are and we’re gonna fight for ‘King of the Inland Empire.’ He’s coming to get my crown.”

Bobby Green | Career Retrospective
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Bobby Green | Career Retrospective
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When asked if their shared ties and previous connection to one another would prompt him to ease off on the trash talk, taunting, and general needling that every other soul that stood across from him in the past has been forced to deal with, Green quickly got serious and made it clear that nothing will change this week.

“When Jalin signed that contract, he made himself the opposition, so he will get the same treatment as every one of these other men… probably a little worse.”

One of the things Green is likely to focus on if and when he and Turner cross paths prior to sharing the Octagon on Saturday is the challenge that comes with accepting a fight like this on short notice.

As someone that is always looking to stay active and constantly answers these types of short notice calls, the scheduled half of this weekend’s co-main event knows all too well what Turner will be dealing with, and admitted he’s enjoying someone else going through those challenges this time around.

MORE: The 10 Year-End Moments Inside the Octagon

“This one is different because someone else is on the other end,” said Green, offering a smile that suggested he had much more to say on the matter. “I guess I’m enjoying it because it’s like, ‘I know what you’re going through’ because I’ve been there so many times. ‘I know what you’re feeling.’

“It’s like watching your son bump his head. It’s like, ‘I knew you were gonna do that’ and it’s cute, it’s funny. It’s kinda cool because I had to bust my a**, make weight, do media obligations. It’s kinda cool that it’s like, ‘this is what I’ve been going through; now it’s your turn.’”

And while Turner wrestles with the myriad challenges a situation like this presents, Green is focused on crafting another unforgettable performance this weekend.

“My style is called ‘poetry in motion’ — I’m here to give you guys fighting at its highest level, the way that I think it should go,” he said. “I like to say it’s almost like a Dragon Ball Z cartoon: there’s going to be talking, then we’re gonna fight, and then there is gonna be talking, and then we’re gonna fight some more.

"There’s gonna be a lot of stuff; see if you can follow it.”

Order UFC 296: Edwards vs Covington

UFC Fight Night: Dariush vs Tsarukyan took place live from Moody Center in Austin, Texas on December 2, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass