Can Bobby Green shock Islam Makhachev?

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September 7, 2019; Abu Dhabi, UAE; Islam Makhachev (red gloves) fights Davi Ramos (blue gloves) during UFC 242 at Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports

Considering where Makhachev tends to dominate his fights from, his focus should be pretty clear when he steps into the smaller cage this Saturday.

Nonetheless, it still seems many forget that Green comes from a wrestling background and has rarely been passed inside the octagon. In fact, if you watch Green’s fights over the past decade, you’ll find the hot-headed Californian doing his best against dedicated grapplers – usually finishing those fights getting the better of the grind.

While I’m not necessarily shocked to see Green trying to flip the script to make the jump on Makhachev early on, I’m not sure how much ground he could hypothetically gain on a sober sambo champion. Against Arman Tsarukyan, Makhachev showed both excellent shot detection and technical acumen to defend them.

More importantly, failed takedown entries tend to bring the fight to where Makhachev is most comfortable – the clinch.

Similar to his now trainer, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Makhachev also scores the majority of his kills by chaining attacks in clinch space. Whether Makhachev is working from his favorite one-legged stance or hitting smooth trips and throws from links, the Dagestani product displays solid adaptability in wrestling scenarios.

If Makhachev intends to crush Green with regularity, he’ll have to be prepared to adapt to the only other fighter in the division who can hold a candle to his hand-fighting sensibilities.

Makhachev prefers the more traditional approach of accompanying wrist commands to high, tight whistles in order to separate grapples, while Green opts to go for a more unique grapple defending style that blends into his offense.

Whatever position Green finds himself in, the 14-year-old pro is diligent when it comes to battling through the hands and looking to turn or trade against opponents, showing he has answers to every step of the way.

Still, whether it’s mat wrestling or transitional grappling in general, Makhachev can be tough to beat.

Along with having tremendous hip and grip awareness, Makhachev is one of my favorite fighters to highlight when it comes to demonstrating the importance of wrist control. An unsung hero when it comes to effective martial arts techniques, Makhachev’s silent control of hands and wrists helps thwart his opponent’s advances while he favors his own.

Makhachev also uses stellar legs that go beyond his standing clinch work, as it’s not uncommon to see the 12-year-old pro incorporate leg squeeze vines in conjunction with back attacks (like we see it in his finish of Thiago Moises).

Green is good at defending leg hooks with elbows en route to the tripod out of backhand attempts, but Makhachev’s footwork style could be the difference in rallies.

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