Who’s Next For Edson Barboza?

With the lightweight division in a shamble, there is one name in particular who is not currently connected to a fight and that same man landed a vicious fight ending flying knee on Beneil Dariush three months ago at UFC Fight Night and stated his case for a rematch against Tony Ferguson for the interim UFC lightweight title.

Ferguson submitted Barboza in round 2 after stunning him with an illegal upkick back in December of 2015.  Barboza called Ferguson out in hopes to secure the fight in July, but instead of entertaining the idea of a rematch, Ferguson turned his focus away from Khabib Nurmagomedov and towards Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz.  A potential rematch between Barboza and Ferguson would be interesting considering how significant the illegal kick was in causing damage.  Despite referee John McCarthy’s claim that Barboza was milking the injury, anyone tuned in could see how Barboza struggled to remain on his feet when the action was stopped.  When the action continued, we saw a different Edson Barboza and Ferguson rightfully took  the opportunity to secure the upper hand.

Barbs finds himself in a tough spot considering the losses he’s suffered against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone and Michael Johnson of which occurred in 2014 and 2015 along with the loss to Ferguson.  Judging by his skill set alone, you’d think Barboza would’ve earned himself a title shot and when you realize he’s got a 13-4 UFC record, you’d think it’s insane he hasn’t even had a #1 contender bout.  Barboza has the rotten luck of being in the toughest division in MMA as well as losing key losses against the opposition that would’ve likely put him over the top.

Barboza’s exciting style and notable kicks have been hampered by his lack of a strong chin.  This is not to say Barboza is lacking any heart or cardio.  He is currently sitting on a three fight winning streak, which includes Anthony Pettis and Gilbert Melendez, but is currently ranked fourth behind Eddie Alvarez, Ferguson, and Khabib Nurmagomedov.  Alvarez is coming off a controversial no-contest against Dustin Poirier after landing an illegal knee last month at UFC 211.  Both fighters have  showed interest in a rematch, but it was reported that the UFC is forced to wait until November to re-book the back and forth fight because Poirier suffered a concussion.

That is a long time to wait and instead of waiting why not book Alvarez and Barboza in another potentially fight of the year candidate in the mean time?  Barboza is ranked higher than Michael Johnson despite Johson’s decision victory over him.  With Johnson booked against UFC newcomer Justin Gaethje in July at the TUF finale, perhaps the winner would face Barboza.  If this were the case and if Gaethje were to get past Johnson we could be in line for a solid match up between two competitors known for holding a number of TKO victories via leg kicks.  I don’t see too many fans being mad at that fight.  Then again, maybe the winner between Michael Chiesa and Kevin Lee next Saturday.  Two men who are currently ranked below Barboza.

Given the fact that Barboza possesses such an exciting style it’s a given that any fight he’s in will be entertaining, but he is adamant on moving up the ladder in his division and if the UFC is in the business of building stars, why not give him the good old UFC push?  Alvarez is a former champion and would look good on Barboza’s resume.  Then again, maybe the UFC is waiting to re-book Ferguson and Nurmagomedov and will include Barboza on the same card in case another injury postpones the fight for the hundredth time.

Whatever the UFC decides to do with Barboza it’s clear that he is once again in line for a big fight against a big name opponent.  Whoever it should be we’ll find out soon enough.  I think it’s safe to say nobody in the lightweight division is exactly lining up to face him right about now.  That includes Al Iaquinta.

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