Maurice Greene knew his fight at UFC on ESPN 12 could be do-or-die for his career inside the octagon.
After falling in his previous two outings, Greene knew he needed a win on Saturday night to secure his future, and he not only pulled out an incredible comeback, but one of the most improbable submissions to finish Gian Villante in the third round.
Greene had to survive a devastating knockdown before locking on an arm-triangle choke from the bottom to tap Villante out with less than 90 seconds remaining in the fight.
“It feels so good,” Greene said after his win with tears in his eyes. “I was on a two-fight skid. It’s critical you win all your fights and my job was kind of on the line tonight. It’s just like a weight’s lifted off my shoulders.”
WHAT A TURN OF EVENTS! @TheCrochetBoss submits Villante w/ just a minute to go!— UFC (@ufc) June 28, 2020
Action concludes on @ESPN. #UFCVegas4 pic.twitter.com/ziU21wwTUI
When the fight got started, Greene showed off his height and reach advantage as he tried to keep Villante at a distance with long punches and a lot of kicks thrown to the head and body. Regardless of Greene’s striking, Villante continued to press forward and he connected with a well-timed body shot that put the former Ultimate Fighter competitor on his heels.
As the fight continued, Greene upped his volume as he sought to break Villante down with a better output but his combinations were only coming with one or two strikes at a time. In return, Villante began connecting with a series of thudding leg kicks that were definitely paying dividends.
With power on his side, Villante started to add to his kicks by then coming over the top with punches that started to find a home on Greene’s chin. That strategy paid off when Villante countered a Superman punch with a huge left hand that sent Greene crashing down to the canvas.
Villante followed him to the ground with a punishing series of elbows and punches, but Greene refused to go away. As time ticked away on the round, Villante slowed down following his initial flurry on the mat and Greene took advantage when he caught the New York native in an arm triangle choke with his back against the mat.
As Greene tightened the choke, Villante was forced to tap out, which received a stunned reaction from the UFC commentary team after the fight came to an end.
With plans to move his family cross country so he could begin training full time at the famed Jackson-Wink MMA Academy in New Mexico, Greene had everything riding on his performance on Saturday night, and he came through with a much-needed win in dramatic fashion.