In the 14-year history of The Ultimate Fighter, there have been several memorable miscreants who went on to have enormously successful MMA careers.
Josh Koscheck, the alpha of the TUF bad guys, emerged as a fighter that fans loved to hate and he rode that wave up until his retirement earlier this year. Matt Mitrione came out of nowhere on TUF 10, becoming a memorable knucklehead that has since carved out a path for himself in both the UFC and Bellator. Even lightweight star Tony Ferguson started off as a troublemaker on TUF 13 before going on to win the show and 14 of his 15 UFC fights.
Could Maurice Greene be the next TUF villain to follow in their footsteps?
Whether he can live up to that notoriety remains to be seen, but there’s no questioning that Greene was the most memorable character on TUF 28. Every week, it seemed like the Glory kickboxer was causing a stir, whether it was butting heads with housemates Juan Espino, Anderson da Silva, and Marciea Allen, causing a drunken disturbance, or even just sneaking away for a cigarette. Greene was never far from the cameras, which seemed eager to capture his every move.
For his part, Greene embraced the role of house malcontent and when recently asked by MMA Fighting how much of the drama was manufactured for the sake of the show, he insisted that what viewers saw was a monster of his own making.
“The producers didn’t do anything. That’s the thing that I can honestly say about the experience,” Greene said. “The producers never staged anything, never asked me to do anything, they never did any of that. That was me. I was upset with Juan. I had a beef with Anderson.
“Me and (Team Gastelum teammate) Justin (Frazier) were having fun, having a couple of drinks and Anderson comes in jokingly, ‘I’m easy money and Justin hits like a bitch.’ Well, we’re about a half a bottle of Patron in, what do you think is gonna happen?”
Though things never became physical between Greene and da Silva — a past kickboxing rival who owns a win over Greene in that sport — or anyone else in the house, it was made clear that several cast members had a problem with Greene’s belligerent behavior.
Most glaring was Greene’s contentions relationship with Espino. The two started off as friends, but Greene accused Espino of turning his back on him once they ended up on opposite TUF teams. The two would eventually meet in the heavyweight tournament semifinals, where Espino defeated Greene by first-round submission.
Post-match, the two did not bury the hatchet.
“I don’t care for him,” Greene said of Espino. “When I say I don’t care for him, I genuinely mean I don’t care for him. I think he’s two-faced — I don’t want to go into it because he’s not my focus right now, but just so you know, from what I saw and I can only base it off how long I’ve known him and what I’ve seen. He may be a great guy to other people, but I just think he’s two-faced as hell and I don’t f*king like him. I can’t even talk about him without using profanity because I don’t like him that much.
“But he’s not thinking about me like this, so I’m neither here nor there. I just think he’s a little full of himself, he’s not as good as he thinks he is. Don’t get me wrong, he’s talented in his own right, and you can’t talk too much shit after getting beat like that, but at the end of the day Juan the only reason why Juan was relevant was because I was talking about him.”
None of this is to indicate that Greene is bitter about the experience. As expected, Greene has been signed to the UFC to fight fellow semifinalist Michel Batista at The Ultimate Fighter 28 Finale on Friday in Las Vegas, and he expects his antics to bring an extra level of attention when it’s showtime.
He praised coach Kelvin Gastelum for helping him improve on the show. In the lead-up to the finale, Greene has spent time in Yuma, Ariz., training with teammates Frazier and Pannie Kianzad, who are competing in their respective tournament finals, and several coaches who worked with them during the season. Despite his questionable habits, Greene feels that he gave the coaching staff everything he had during their time together.
“I think these coaches got the best out of me regardless of me having cigarettes or drinking,” Greene said. “I actually tried to quit smoking the first two weeks on the show. In the beginning I really tried, well you see where trying went. I drank. But don’t ever think for a minute that every time I was in that gym that I wasn’t working hard. There’s not a day that went by that we were in practice that I wasn’t working hard.”
That newly formed relationship is part of the reason Greene can speak of his difficult time on the show so positively.
“Do I regret it? No. I think it was the best thing for me, it was the best thing for my career,” Greene said. “It opened up a lot of doors for me. They told us to be ourselves and I think the general public got the good the bad and the ugly. They got a little bit of everything from me, where they didn’t get a whole lot of the other cast, hence the reason why I’ve been pretty much on every episode.
“Sometimes good publicity, bad publicity, it’s still people talking about you. So that’s a good thing.”
Thinking about his fiancee and kids waiting for him at home weighed heavily on Greene during the six-week filming of the show, even though they made sure to provide him with a care package for the house filled with gifts and cards that he could unpack one day at a time. That long distance affection probably kept Greene from losing it completely, even though he created more than enough controversy on the show that his family didn’t approve of.
As happy as the producers must have been, Greene’s fiancee was a different story.
“There were points where she wished I did act a different way and she got a little irritated and mad and said, ‘Why would you do that?’ But at the end of the day we’ve been together nine years, she knows how I am,” Greene said. “So this is the same shit you get from me in some cases, not on TV, you’re just under a microscope now. They needed to build a show that people would watch and I gave them that drama piece. I gave them what they wanted naturally.”
“At the end of the day, the people that love me, the people that are close to me know me,” Greene continued. “So I get a lot people saying I’m a drunk, I’m this, I’m that. Well, that’s alright, you can say that. Because I know what I am so I can hold my head up high at the end of the day.”
Heading into his fight with Batista, Greene said that he and Frazier have been helping each other to game plan (Frazier beat Batista in the semifinals to go on to face Espino on Friday’s card). He described the experience of being an official UFC fighter as “a little surreal,” even though he assumed the promotion would pick him up after TUF wrapped.
Now that he’s past the drama on the show, Greene is looking to create even more drama in the cage.
“You have to be ready to fight in the TUF house when nobody’s there and it feels like a practice. It’s a totally different experience,” Greene said. “So you’re damn right, when I hit that tunnel, it’s going down. I’m going to be a little nervous, but once we exchange bro, it’s on. And I will never back on from putting on an awesome fight. Whether I get knocked out, knock you out, whatever.
“At the end of the day, I’m here to entertain and I’m here to keep my spot in the UFC. I’m not trying to go home with my dick between my legs. I’m a go out there, I’m a put my balls on the line and I’m a give Michel the best Maurice that I got.”