One of the veterans of the game is making a big change this Saturday at UFC Florida. Edson Barboza, a 10-year UFC veteran with one of the nastiest highlight reels you’ll come across, is making a weight change.
It’s not uncommon in today’s age. A lot of high-profile fighters are testing the waters of other divisions, specifically a lot of fighters in the lightweight division. But unlike Barboza’s counterparts, like Conor McGregor, Cowboy Cerrone or Anthony Pettis, Barboza is moving down a weight class – not up.
Barboza will make his UFC featherweight debut on Saturday against Dan Ige.
“I dropped because I’ve worked for the UFC for almost 10 years and I really need a new challenge for my career and for myself,” Barboza said during media day.
Before we watch Barboza enter a new stage Saturday, here’s a few things to learn about his former life at lightweight.
Everyone has seen it by now. In his fourth UFC fight, Barboza delivered a spinning wheel kick to Terry Etim that is arguably one of the best finishes the sport has ever seen. If the lightweight division didn’t take a hint after Barboza stopped Mike Lullo with leg kicks in his UFC debut, they certainly took notice after the Etim finish.
Barboza’s leg kicks have been a destructive force ever since and the main part to his success in the UFC. He even won an ESPY for “Best Play Award”.
With a UFC record of 14-8, Barboza has never earned a shot at the title. Though a mainstay in the upper tier of the rankings, Barboza has never been able to string together enough consecutive victories to earn a shot.
Perhaps his best chance came in 2017. Fresh off wins over Anthony Pettis, Gilbert Melendez and Beneil Dariush, Barboza drew Khabib Nurmagomedov. He went the distance with the current champ but fell by decision.
Barboza’s loss to Nurmagomedov sparked a skid of losing four of five. And though Barboza’s resume has it all, as he’s fought all the big names in what’s considered the most stacked division in the UFC, it’s no surprise that he is making a change after a dropping a couple in a row, because it would be a tough hill to climb to get to the top of the lightweight mountain. The other ranking members of 155 pounds aren’t exactly itching to accept a fight with Barboza either.
Barboza sports nine performance bonuses to his name. His career got off to a fast start when he earned Fight of the Night in three consecutive fights after his debut. Most of his bonuses (seven) are of the Fight of the Night variety, but he added a nasty Performance of the Night when he finished Dariush with a flying knee in 2017.
Barboza’s first challenge at 145 pounds isn’t an easy one, as he’s set to square off with red-hot Dan Ige. A Contender Series product, Ige has won five consecutive fights but still hasn’t gotten the recognition he deserves despite sitting at No. 15 in the rankings after an impressive performance against Mirsad Bektic at UFC 247. So it’s as big of a fight for Ige as it is for Barboza, with the Hawaiian finally getting his shot at a big name in a fight that could put him in the top 10.
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