After a lopsided loss at UFC 219 to eventual title contender Khabib Nurmagomedov, Edson Barboza finds himself in a peculiar position at 155.
The road less traveled
Before breaking down exactly what happened at UFC 219, it’s important to preface the conversation regarding Edson Barboza with a few crucial facts when discussing his career.
Edson Barboza has been a mainstay in the UFC’s toughest division for eight years now. His losses have been few and far between, and Barboza is truly one of the few fighters who take on any fight, anywhere and actually mean it.
Whether it’s Donald Cerrone, Tony Ferguson or Michael Johnson, his string of difficult opposition has never waned in the years he’s stayed at the top 15 of the table. His latest win streak over names like Pettis, Melendez and Dariush pushed him into a number one contender position even after a loss to Ferguson in 2015.
Checking the record
When looking back at his loss to Tony Ferguson, it’s important to account for the illegal kick that dazed Barboza for a significant duration in the second round. Even with the point deduction, Ferguson’s ability to capitalize off the damage inflicted was apparent in the way Barboza was defending from bottom. In the end, Ferguson walked away with a finish but there was no doubting the gameness from Barboza to continue on in a fight where most would’ve looked for a disqualification.
At UFC 219, it wasn’t so much the shortcomings of Barboza as much as it was the sheer dominance and prowess of Nurmagomedov in his element. Barboza was able to get some momentum going early with leg strikes in quick combinations, but the resulting onslaught from ‘The Eagle’ was too much to overcome. Even still, the toughness displayed to go the full distance was a feather in his cap despite defeat. Simply put, Edson Barboza is still a top four lightweight on his worst day, and there is still room to improve.
So where does the Brazilian knockout artist go from here? There’s no definitive answer to that yet. It’s apparent that Barboza has merited some well deserved time off to recuperate from the war he endured. Whenever it’s time to go back to the drawing board, his A-list team of coaches and training partners will be ready for the occasion.
For what it’s worth, Barboza and his team have always acted like professionals when it comes to bouncing back from tough losses, and we can expect more of the same going forward. The UFC may try to give him some sort of ‘tune-up’ fight on the way back to the octagon, but given the names he’s beaten already, there are few fights that could be made that actually fit that criteria.
In the anticipation of a 2018 return, a future bout against Dustin Poirier, Justin Gaethje or Kevin Lee would be the exact match-up needed to keep both sides at the top of their game and further solidify one another’s case for lightweight supremacy.