Edson Barboza recently gave an interview with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto and made it clear that he has his sights set on opponents ranked above him and even included a potential battle against Jose Aldo at 145 lbs should there not be any enticing options at 155 lbs. While it’s difficult to imagine him facing Aldo anytime soon, Barboza made it clear that he wants the winner of next week’s bout between Michael Johnson and Justin Gaethje and is not interested in anyone ranked beneath him. I guess that rules out Kevin Lee.
With the lightweight division currently in limbo, Barboza doesn’t have many options. That includes fighting teammate Eddie Alvarez, who is ranked above him, which he made clear he wouldn’t do. Alvarez is currently awaiting a UFC 211 rematch against Dustin Poirier to get booked.
Barboza and Aldo would be one hell of a match up considering their speed and striking ability, but Aldo is unlikely to return anytime soon given the nature of his loss. Should Aldo decide to move up to lightweight, Barboza would be a tough introduction to the new division and should Barboza come down to 145 lbs, Aldo will still face no real upside defeating a tough opponent who is not a ranked featherweight. Perhaps he could draw somebody like Cub Swanson or maybe Jeremy Stephens. If Aldo follows through with his pre-fight comments on moving to lightweight for big fights, would Barboza-Aldo be considered a super fight?
Aldo wasn’t shy in bringing up the notion of seeking a challenge for himself at lightweight prior to his loss to Max Holloway at UFC 212, but why wouldn’t he ask for someone like Nate Diaz instead?
Diaz might not be inclined to accept the potential fight against Aldo, but it’d still be worth a shot considering their names being linked to McGregor and their clash of styles. Diaz would be Aldo’s biggest opponent in terms of mass and a victory over him would make a statement and could lead to a UFC lightweight title shot sooner rather than later.
The problem with this fight is the fact that Diaz will continue to demand the money the UFC would only offer him if Conor McGregor were standing across the cage. Another factor is the idea of Aldo jumping in against a fighter that has good boxing and good cardio like Diaz might not be the best of ideas.
Diaz initially agreed to fight Tony Ferguson at UFC 213, but then decided he’d change his mind once he realized he’d be doing McGregor a favor in killing off a contender, win or lose. Diaz was given the opportunity to fight Georges St Pierre, but decided his older brother, Nick would be better off taking that fight. It’s safe to say both Diaz brothers won’t be booked for a fight this year considering their lack of interest.
Barboza taking on Aldo would be nothing short of exciting, but for the time being it’s expected that Barboza remain on the sidelines, something he admitted he didn’t enjoy doing, and await the winner of Johnson-Gaethje with the chance of either avenging his 2015 loss to Johnson or get into a leg kicking battle against Gaethje. Either way, Barboza is currently in the driver’s seat.