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Desmond Green didn’t look too happy. Hours before his bout at UFC Fight Night 125 in Belem, Brazil, he fired up his Instagram to deliver a message to his fans.
Michel Prazeres, the guy he was going to fight? As in, the same Prazeres who’d come in five pounds over the lightweight limit at the previous day’s weigh-ins? Turns out he was also over the fight night weight limit that Green said Prazeres had previously agreed to, giving him, according to Green, a 17-pound weight advantage.
Prazeres would later express some confusion about that agreement, claiming that he didn’t understand whether it was Green or the Brazilian commission that was requiring him to limit his post-weigh-in gains.
Still, one thing no one disputes is that Prazeres had a sizable weight advantage over Green on Saturday night. Green knew it, and opted to go through with the fight anyway because, as he put it, he’s “a company man.”
“I didn’t come all the way to Brazil to not perform,” Green wrote on Instagram.
He’d go on to lose the fight via unanimous decision – his second straight loss in the UFC – and while it’s tough to know whether giving up an edge in weight made the difference, it sure didn’t seem to help. But what else was he supposed to do, just not fight?
That is an option, and it’s the one John Dodson chose under similar circumstances on the same fight card. When Pedro Munhoz came in four pounds heavy for their bantamweight bout, Dodson opted not to take the fight. Initially, it seemed like he might go home completely empty handed, but eventually he got a portion of his pay and a shot at rescheduling the fight in the very near future.
So did Dodson make a better choice than Green? That’s where it gets tricky.
For starters, no two fighters are ever in identical situations. Coming into Saturday’s event, Dodson was a 12-fight UFC veteran, a former “Ultimate Fighter” winner, and a two-time flyweight title challenger. He was also on the final fight of his current UFC contract, and coming off a split-decision loss to Marlon Moraes in his last outing.
Did he take some grief from fans for choosing not to fight? Sure. But if he’d spotted Munhoz the extra weight and lost, how much slack would that have gotten him in contract negotiations after the bout?
That brings us back to Green, who showed up in Brazil with only two UFC fights on his record. When Prazeres came in heavy, he probably felt that he couldn’t simply refuse to fight, lest he anger the UFC brass.
At the same time, an opponent who’s five pounds overweight is likely one who didn’t exactly strain himself trying to make the limit, so it’s reasonable to put a cap on how much more weight he can add before fight time.
Only that didn’t work either, according to Green’s version of events, so he essentially faced the same dilemma twice. He had the foresight to ask that Prazeres’ pre-fight weight gain be limited, but apparently not quite enough to work out what he’d do if Prazeres simply ignored the request.
Still, in the end he did what fans and UFC management are always saying they want fighters to do. He sucked it up and he fought anyway. He also came out on the wrong end of the judges’ decision.
Here’s where you have to wonder: A week or a month or a year from now, how many of us will remember the circumstances of that loss on his record? How much will it help him when he has to explain himself and argue his worth to the UFC?
Fighters in that situation face an agonizing choice. Obviously, they all want to fight. It’s why they chose this career in the first place. They also have to weigh a multitude of different considerations, from their contract status to their perceived standing with the company, just to figure out when it’s worth it to take the risk and when they’re better off saying no.
It’s a lot to have on your mind when you’re counting down the hours until you step in the cage with another person who’s being paid to hurt you. And when you’re 12 minutes in to a three-round slog, gasping for air and stuck on your back, an extra 15 or 20 pounds might start to seem like an awful lot.
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