The UFC lightweight division might be the deepest group of fighters in the promotion, with absolute monsters filling out the entire top fifteen. In the mix of top contenders is the always dangerous Edson Barboza, who has been fighting in the UFC for nearly eight years.
Despite coming off the first back-to-back losses of his career, the 32 year-old Barboza knows that his experiences against some of the best fighters in the world has made him better than ever. And he’s excited to remind the world why he’s the No. 5 ranked lightweight in the world.
Barboza is set to meet the surging Dan Hooker in the co-main event of UFC Milwaukee this weekend on FOX. We caught up with Barboza to discuss working with American Top Team, fighting Hooker and more.
Top 5 Edson Barboza Finishes
The Brazilian Lightweight's Greatest Hits
Top 5 Edson Barboza Finishes
UFC: It’s been a while since we’ve seen you. How have you been?
EB: I’ve been training a lot. Been learning to be a better fighter. I’m definitely a different fighter because I’ve changed a lot. I changed my whole camp, I moved back to Florida and started training with ATT (American Top Team) and yeah you guys are going to see a different Edson Barboza. Be ready.
UFC: How has the move to ATT enhanced your game?
EB: Whatever I need I have at ATT. I have 1,000 different training partners and high level guys. I think that’s different for this camp.
UFC: You’ve said this might be the most important fight of my career. Why do you think that? Is there extra pressure that comes along with that feeling?
EB: It’s the next one. It’s the fight that I have, some fights gone -- behind me. I can’t do anything about the fights that are gone and the fight I have on my mind is the next one. Most important fight of my life. Zero pressure. Like I said I love my job, sometimes you win sometimes you lose but I love my job and I can’t wait for Saturday night.
UFC: What’s your favorite part about being a fighter?
EB: Man I love the work. One thing that I think is very important, the most important, I love training. That’s the most important because I feel one day if I start getting tired or I start fight with myself to go to the gym every day, I think that’s the time to stop fighting. I know I never want to stop fighting because that’s in my blood I can’t get out of this you know? Like I said I love training I love going to the gym every single day and if I’m motivated like that I will go far.
UFC: What makes your style so dangerous for your opponents?
EB: I think it’s because my background. I’m a kickboxer fighter a Thai fighter. I like to go in there and put a show for everybody. If you watch my fighters I think I’ve had almost 20 fights in the UFC and never somebody booed my fights. Because of my background in kickboxing we try to knock the guy out all the time.
UFC: Have you studied your opponent, Dan Hooker, and if so what do you think about him?
EB: He’s a great fighter, he’s a top 15 guy and I feel so blessed because the UFC has given me the opportunity to fight with the best guys in the world. And I am very happy because I am one of the best too. Like I said it’s one more fight I’m very excited and can’t wait.
UFC: Where do you think you have the advantage in this fight?
EB: I think I have a little bit more experience fighting better guys, tough guys the top guys in the world. But it’s a fight. Every time you step in the Octagon you can win or sometimes you could lose. It’s one more fight. I know if I go in there and give my best I’m going to win this fight.
Make sure you tune in Saturday night at 8pm/5pm ETPT on FOX to see Barboza take on Hooker at UFC Milwaukee.
Gavin Porter is a digital producer and writer for UFC.com, follow him on Twitter at @PorterUFCNews.