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Bobby Green, UFC Fight Night 57's 'Fighter to Watch' tonight in Austin

Riding a tremendous win streak, Bobby Green comes into UFC Fight Night 57 this evening on the verge of lightweight contender status. Edson Barboza, however, is standing in his way.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

In the most stacked Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) division, it is incredibly difficult for a fighter to make a name for himself because of a shark tank of incredibly talented fighters making every fight on the way to the top a difficult one.

This division, of course, is UFC's Lightweight weight class, which houses fan favorites and several of the most respected names in the sport. Its perhaps the most exciting one that the UFC offers, raising huge questions of fighters who aim to climb atop it. One such fighter is Bobby "King" Green, who will fight Edson Barboza tonight (Sat., Nov. 22, 2014) at UFC Fight Night 57 in search of a ninth consecutive win. Green, a very exciting fighter, has compiled an impressive list of victories over the last few years and could make an unlikely run at UFC contendership.

Coming into UFC after the Strikeforce merger, Green had already made himself a fairly known commodity, notching wins in all but one of his appearances for the now-defunct promotion, a narrow split decision loss to Gesias "JZ" Cavalcante. Green was known for a well-rounded, aggressive fight style, capable of pushing lower-level opponents into fights where they were at their weakest, making him all the more impressive.

That said, nobody really thought much of the talent he possessed.

In Green's UFC debut, he was a big underdog to then-mainstay, Jacob Volkmann, and he certainly looked the part for the better part of the first round. However, Green impressively made the adjustments necessary to fight back Volkmann's predictable wrestling approach and began to take over the fight. After a brutalizing second round, Green was able to finish the fight in the third round by submission, reversing position on Volkmann and tapping him out with a rear-naked choke.

Green's next performance was a bizarre one, taking on James Krause at UFC Fight For The Troops 3. The fight was competitive from the opening bell, but two hard strikes to the groin cost Green a point. Toward the end of the round, Green landed yet another questionable blow, followed by a complaint that it was a fair blow, and referee John McCarthy called the fight as a technical knockout in Green's favor.

The win left a sour taste in the mouths of many fans, but ultimately, Green is the one with the "W" on his record, which is all that counts.

Green would follow up the Krause fight with a short-notice call up to fight fellow Strikeforce alum Pat Healy at UFC on FOX 9. In a fairly competitive contest, Green showed he was the better fighter over the course of three rounds, showing off his developing skills in all areas en route to a unanimous decision victory over a very game opponent. The win pushed Green's win streak to a very impressive seven in a row, successfully announcing himself as a top commodity in UFC's 155-pound division.

The Healy win put Green into a nice position in the divisional standings, proving he could take on big challenges when thrown his way. But, unfortunately, Green was about to be hit with a new kind of adversity, this one all too close to home.

Green's brother, Mitchell Davis Jr., was tragically shot and killed in a drive-by shooting on May 31, 2014, near his home, walking with four other family members of Green's (three of whom were also hit). This is the type of shocking loss nobody expects, much less one you expect to keep someone in a focused state of mind. Company president Dana White was kind enough to reach out and pay for the funeral costs, while Green and his family were left to mourn the loss of a family member.

Despite all this, Green kept his momentum as a fighter alive.

About one month after his brother passed away, he got the call that Michael Johnson was injured and out of his fight with Josh Thomson at UFC on FOX 12. Green jumped at the opportunity. Taking the fight on just about two weeks notice, Green still managed to put on quite a performance, going toe-to-toe with the former title challenger.

The bout was odd in a sense, as Green opted to trash talk mid-fight on numerous occasions, taunting and teasing Thomson whenever he came up short. He backed up his talk, however, pressing forward aggressively and beating Thomson in many exchanges. After three rounds, neither fighter looked to have won decisively, but it was Green's hand that was raised, taking the fight on two of the three judges' scorecards.

The win marked a very necessary positive in a rather negative point in Green's life. It also placed Green within the UFC's Lightweight Top 10, a very impressive feat for a Strikeforce import who nobody really expected much from.

Indeed, Green went on a very unexpected tear through the UFC's lightweight division ... and that is something that demands respect.

In yet another bad turn, however, Green's other brother was also involved in a shooting recently, this one in September. Luckily, he survived the shooting, but it is surely a very concerning event that will test Green's resolve even further. With such alarming things happening to his family, it's not hard to imagine it affecting his mentality about his fighting career.

Perhaps these events are what's behind his recent Facebook post that teased retirement. It is understandable that such events could impact his outlook on his career, and maybe he just wants to move onto something else. Of course, this could also mean nothing, as it wouldn't be the first time a fighter has said something he doesn't truly mean.

Regardless of all of this, he has a very legitimate opponent standing in front of him tonight, and that will be his primary concern in the moment. Barboza is a sharp, skilled Muay Thai practitioner who could make this a very bad night for Green if he is not on his A-game.

When it comes to fighting Barboza, Green's path to victory is one that will call upon his well-rounded skills. To have any success standing with Barboza, the threat of the takedown will have to be ever-present. And I expect Green to establish it very quickly. Fighting tight in the clinch will also be a key point for Green if he wants to bust up Barboza, which is an area where he can have solid success.

Green would be best advised to avoid striking at a distance in this fight because that is where Barboza does his best work. If he lets Barboza establish his distance early, he can expect to be on the end of a lot of hard kicks and punches, which is the reason he'll have to be the one pushing the pace the whole fight.

Ultimately, Barboza is a very winnable fight for Green -- albeit a sizable step down from Thomson -- but he isn't someone to be taken lightly. If Green's head isn't in it, he will probably have a rough night, but he has beaten a tougher opponent under some pretty tough mental circumstances before, so I wouldn't expect anything but the best Bobby Green possible come showtime.

A win in this fight could be the boost Green needs to push on through some hard times, and it would be nice to see him continue his surprising win streak, especially since he's been through a lot to make it this far. If he could put together a few more wins, Green could even be knocking on the door of a title shot, and I hope to see him realize his potential and reach an even higher level in MMA.

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