ROCHESTER, N.Y. – It never made much sense to Desmond Greenthat mixed martial arts was illegal in New York state.
Green (22-8 MMA, 3-3 UFC) grew up in Rochester, and he knows the sport’s world-championship pedigree in the Empire State: Rashad Evans is from down the road in Niagara Falls. Chris Weidman and Matt Serra are from Long Island. Oh, and some guy you might have heard of named Jon Jones calls New York home, too.
So as Green worked his way up the ranks in this game, it never made sense to him that he couldn’t fight at home.
“It was super frustrating,” Green told reporters, including MMA Junkie, at Wednesday’s UFC on ESPN+ 10 media day. “It’s like, how can MMA not be legal in New York? At one point we had Rashad Evans, who was UFC champion, from upstate New York. We had Jon Jones from New York as a champion, we had Chris Weidman from New York as a champion. New York is known for fighters. I couldn’t figure out for the life of me why it wasn’t legal, but I’m a big believer in everything happens for a reason.”
Now 30 fights into his career, though, Green finally gets the chance to fight in his hometown. Green’s lightweight bout against UFC debutante Charles Jourdain (9-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) has him in the hometown hero role, and he believes this is the moment his career has built up to.
“With MMA getting so far and progressing so far, when it used to be illegal here, me being from here, every time, I’ve got almost 30 professional fights, I’ve fought in other countries over 10 times,” Green said. “I’ve been in Russia, I’ve been in Brazil, I’ve been in Canada, I’ve been in Amsterdam, you know what I mean? The list goes on. I’m always that villain, coming into someone’s hometown, having to go to someone’s hometown territory, having to be the hometown guy. this is finally my chance to be the hometown hero. I’m just soaking it all up.”
And while there’s plenty of business to take care of on Saturday night, until the cage door locks, Green is going to appreciate the moment.
“Honestly, every day for the past two weeks I’ve been waking up feeling like Christmas is coming,” Green said. “I can’t even put it into words. I can’t even hide my smile if I wanted to. Every time somebody brings up ‘how you feel fighting in Rochester?’ I guess I get a huge smile on my face. Like, I wasn’t kidding when I said last fight I’d fight here for free. I really would. These guys deserve it, I’ve gotten so much love from the town since I started, it’s an honor. A dream is an understatement. It’s a fantasy.”
UFC on ESPN+ 10 takes place Saturday at Blue Cross Arena. The card streams on ESPN+.
For more from Green, check out the video above.
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: UFC Rochester hometown hero Desmond Green still can't believe MMA was banned in New York