Edson Barboza Crafting a Run at UFC Gold

Edson Barboza Crafting a Run at UFC Gold

Edson Barboza has always been a dangerous striker, but the Brazilian lightweight has a different label in mind for the future: champion. And he believes the

May 27, 2016 by Duane Finley
Edson Barboza Crafting a Run at UFC Gold
Edson Barboza has always been a dangerous striker, but the Brazilian lightweight has a different label in mind for the future: champion. And he believes the proper work is being done to make that dream a reality.

Due to vicious leg kicks and a string of highlight reel finishes, the Brazilian wrecking machine is recognized for his stand-up game. Barboza’s talents are fearsome—any of his attacks can end an opponent’s night in abrupt and violent fashion.

“I know I can strike with anyone in my division,” Barboza said. “My kicks are hard to deal with and I can throw them from many angles. I always respect who I’m fighting but I go in there to knock them out. If the right thing lands, you’re hitting the canvas.”

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Becoming a Well-Rounded Fighter

Yet, for all of Barboza’s promise and potential, the 30-year-old has failed to make traction at the elite level of the stacked UFC lightweight division. Holes in his game have led to setbacks in crucial tilts against high-profile opposition.

Barboza has offensive brilliance for days, and is learning the other half of the equation is equally important.

“I’ve been working hard on my defense,” Barboza said. “My footwork has always been good, but it’s about putting yourself in the best position. [Mark Henry] has helped me so much and the results are starting to show.”

Barboza’s defensive improvements were on display in his recent tilt against fellow striking phenom Anthony Pettis at UFC 197. Barboza outworked the former 155-pound titleholder en route to a unanimous-decision victory.

The win over “Showtime” was not only the biggest of Barboza’s career, but also the most consistent against elite competition.


“I feel I had a great fight against Anthony Pettis,” Barboza said. “He is a very dangerous guy and he throws a lot of crazy stuff just like I do. He was a champion for a reason, and I’m very happy to have that win. I was able to be more effective with striking than he was and that led to a great victory for me.”

Barboza picked up a lot of momentum by defeating Pettis, and believes his days losing ground in the 155-pound fold have come to an end. Working alongside former 155-pound champion and current featherweight title challenger Frankie Edgar and coach Mark Henry has Barboza running at full confidence.

“It’s my dream to be a champion in the UFC and I now believe I can make that happen,” Barboza said. “I train with the best guys in the world everyday and know what I’m capable of doing inside the cage. There were just missing pieces in the puzzle and working with Coach Mark and Frankie Edgar has taught me a lot about the changes I needed to make. I feel amazing and I’ve never been a better fighter than I am right now.”

The Next Step

Barboza will take the next step toward title contention when he faces former Strikeforce lightweight king Gilbert Melendez at UFC on Fox 20 in Chicago. “El Nino” has been a perennial contender since crossing over to the Octagon in 2013, but Melendez has faced rough waters as of late.

He dropped all but one of his four showings under the UFC banner, and will face Barboza at the tail end of a year-long suspension for failing his post-fight drug test at UFC 188. Though Melendez may be in the midst of a slump, Barboza isn’t willing to overlook anything his opponent brings to the table.

Barboza knows Melendez will pose a major threat, but the name value up for grabs is what has the Rio de Janeiro native ready to rock.

“[Melendez] is a really tough guy,” Barboza said. “I think he’s very talented and he always comes forward to push the fight. I love it, but that isn’t the smartest way to fight me. You come forward and get reckless against me that isn’t going to end well. I’m expecting his best and I will certainly bring mine in the cage.”