Grant Dawson and Bobby Green may be about to throw hands in the main event of UFC Vegas 80, but Dawson has a ton of respect for his more experienced opponent.

Dawson and Green are set to face off in a five-round lightweight bout at the UFC Apex, with Green set to pose the biggest test of Dawson’s 22-fight career. But, despite Green’s attempts to bring a little heat to the matchup, Dawson said he has no need to be all fired up to face “King” on Saturday night.

“Man, you know, Bobby can’t fool me,” Dawson told reporters ahead of fight night in Las Vegas.

“He’s a good guy. He’s a really nice guy. And he was really nice to me back when I was in high school. I don’t know if you guys heard that story, but I know that he’s a nice guy and I’m really glad that he’s trying to sell this fight, so I appreciate it. Bobby.”

“Other than watching UFC fights, my favourite thing to watch was Bully Beatdown. I was a kid (and) I messaged every single Bully Beatdown guy and I just wanted to know, is that all scripted, or is it like, is it a real thing? Obviously, like some of its scripted, but is the fight like real? Do you actually fight somebody?

“The only person that reached back out to me was Bobby Green. He reached out to me and he said, ‘Yeah, it’s real, man. Like, I got to beat up a kid.’ And I was like, ‘Dude, that’s so cool.’ And then he had something nice to say about like, you know, ‘Keep working for it.’ I can’t remember totally, this was like, almost 10 years ago. So I know Bobby Green is a nice guy. But I appreciate him trying to sell the flight.”

The matchup will pit Dawson’s strong wrestling-based attack against Green’s sharp striking style in a clash of fighting styles. But Dawson was quick to point out that their skillsets are both far more diverse than just a wrestler-versus-striker matchup.

“It is a little bit oversimplifying it because he can wrestle. He had a very good wrestling background and we’ve seen in his past fights – even in his last fight, he was out wrestling Tony Ferguson,” he explained.

“So, taking him down, he’s not going to be blown out of the water on the ground. If I can’t get the takedown, I’m not going to be blown out of the water striking. We’re both very good at each other’s strengths, but that’s what makes this fight so much fun. Who is going to be able to dictate what happens in this fight?”

It’s a bout that could potentially see Dawson go the full five-round championship duration. But, despite seeing the benefits of getting a full 25-minute main event matchup under his belt, that certainly isn’t his goal as he prepares to face Green this weekend.

“I do not want to go five rounds, but there will be positives if we do go five rounds and I can perform how I know I normally perform,” he explained.

“Because, for some reason, people think that I have bad cardio, I’ve had bad cardio in one single fight. One fight I got tired and, all of a sudden, I’m a gasser for life. So if I were able to go five rounds with Bobby, keep the pace that I know I can keep, at least we would be able to shut those guys up.”

Some have suggested that the bout was a surprising one to book for the UFC Apex, but Dawson said that he likes the matchup, and said that the respect and notoriety Green has from his lengthy UFC tenure provides a real upside for him as he prepares to face the 45-fight veteran this weekend.

“Matchups don’t make any sense to me, anyways,” he admitted.

“Anything outside of the champion is just suggestion – the rankings change every single day. And if (Green) beats me on Saturday night, then the matchmaking wasn’t that weird, you know?

“I’m taking Bobby very, very seriously. I know how good he is. And I’m going to be honest with you, I think that a win over Bobby Green does more for my career than a couple of wins over some other guys in the Top 15. I just think that he’s got that big of a star power. He’s that big of a veteran, and I’m expecting the best Bobby Green on Saturday night.”

Riding a 12 fight unbeaten streak heading into fight night, victory for Dawson would improve his record to 21-1-1, and should propel him towards a bout against one of the division’s top names. For him, facing Green in a UFC main event offers the right progression as he looks to prepare himself for a run at the UFC lightweight title.

“It feels natural, man,” he explained.

“I keep saying this throughout this whole week. I’ve wanted to be a UFC world champion from day one. So, if I want to be a UFC world champion, I have to know that these kinds of moments are going to happen, and they’re great. And I’m so happy that they’re finally starting to get here.

“But this was supposed to happen. I’m supposed to be in a main event. I’m supposed to be doing this kind of thing. And now I get to show the UFC that you can put me in a main event. And I can perform. I can go all five rounds, if need be. Everything that I’ve worked for is finally coming to fruition.”