UFC Under The Radar: Vannata vs Green
By Jack Maher
While the middleweight main event of this weekends UFC card is rightfully highly anticipated, slightly further down the card, arguably not getting anywhere near the pre-fight hype it warrants is a rematch of one of the greatest fights of 2017, Lando Vannata vs Bobby Green.
The two lightweights fought to a split-draw in a blood-soaked battle back at UFC 216, and after winning Fight of the Night honours they will renew their acquittance nearly 3 years later.
A mixed bag of scores had the original fight judged as 29-27 for Vannata, 29-27 for Green, and 28-28, with Vannata having himself to blame for not getting his hand raised after being deducted a point for an illegal knee.
Although he remains a fan favourite, the hype around Vannata was considerable heading in to the first fight with Green. He had three performance bonuses from three UFC fights, including a Fight of the Night against Tony Ferguson, where he pushed the future interim lightweight champion to his limit in a losing effort on short notice. It felt like the UFC had a potential star on their hands.
In 2020, it feels like Vannata has plateaued, with his UFC record standing at 3-4-2. ‘Groovy’ has been unable to piece a win streak together in the UFC so far, but that could potentially change this weekend if he follows up on his win over Yancy Medieros from early this year.
Likewise to Vannata, Green is also struggling for momentum after a promising start, although he has been with the UFC a lot longer.
Green went 4-0 in the UFC after joining from Strikeforce, and seemed to have all the ingredients to be a solid contender in the 155lb division for the foreseeable future. But he was forced out of potentially career changing fights against Donald Cerrone, Jorge Masvidal and Al Iaquinta. When the big opponents eventually did come for Green, he lost.
When they first met in 2017, Vannata was a newcomer looking to climb the ranks while Green was a veteran looking to remind everyone just how good he was. What resulted was fireworks.
While it may be wishful thinking to expect a fight as good as the first, Green at his best is a fast and powerful standup fighter, while Vannata is an unpredictable kick-boxer with little regard for his defence. If both men want the victory as much as they did last time, it has the ingredients for another classic.
Victory for either man this weekend will not be enough to lift them to the heights once thought they could reach, but it will be a start to restoring some deserved relevancy in a crowded division.