Edson Barboza Is A Star, But UFC Doesn’t Realize It

ufc-162 Does the UFC not realize what they have in Brazilian Muay Thai expert Edson “Junior” Barboza? The 27-year-old has been fighting in the UFC since 2010 and has compiled an excellent 6-1 record since then, while fighting some very tough outs in the UFC’s deep lightweight division. But, for some reason, he’s only fought on the main card twice: a decision win over Ross Pearson at UFC 134 and a KO win over Terry Etim at UFC 142. His other five fights in the UFC, though, have taken place on the prelims. I cannot understand this. Does the UFC not see in this guy what everyone else in the world does? In his seven UFC fights so far, Barboza has picked up three “Fight of the Night” and one “Knockout of the Night” awards, the KOTN award coming for his amazing spinning wheel kick over Etim, a kick that Junior Dos Santos, Urijah Hall and Vitor Belfort used in 2013, mainly in part, due to the fact Barboza proved against Etim that one could use the highlight-reel technique in high-level MMA and finish an opponent. Although he does have dangerous punches too, it’s his kicks that make Barboza such a dangerous striker. With his brutal TKO victory over Rafaello Oliveira at UFC 162 now in the books, Barboza is now the only man in UFC history to defeat two opponents via leg kicks. The other was Mike Lullo back at UFC 123 in November 2010 in what was Barboza’s debut fight in the Octagon. Before I was covering the sport for a living, I was a fan. Me and a few buddies actually drove down to Detroit, MI, for UFC 123 and Barboza’s fight against Lullo was the third on the card. I had heard about Barboza going into the card, but I hadn’t watched any video on him and only knew of his reputation as a dangerous leg kicker. Well, he proved that reputation right and then some as he landed a ridiculous volume of strikes on Lullo’s legs, so bad that poor Lullo couldn’t even stand up by the time the fight was called off in the third round. It was an eye-opening performance that showed me how much potential he had, and Barboza has only continued to improve by leaps and bounds in the years since that magnificent debut. Sure, Barboza had the loss to Jamie Varner at UFC 146 that was a big setback at the time. But it’s been more than a year later and Barboza has finished two opponents since then. I truly do believe that if Barboza and Varner fight again the fight will be much more competitive, so I’m not even against the idea of a rematch should Varner get by Gleison Tibau at UFC 164, although it might be best at this point for Barboza to move on to another matchup. Regardless of who he fights next, though, I want to see Barboza on the main card, and I want to see him against a fellow striker with some good wrestling, someone that can really test him. Sure, Barboza stopped the takedowns of Oliveira, but would he stop the takedowns of a fighter like Myles Jury? I’m not sure, but I want to see Barboza get a step up from the Oliveiras and the Lucas Martins of the world. The UFC needs to realize that they have a star in Barboza and he needs to get more exposure. If his next fight isn’t on pay-per-view or on the main card of a UFC on FOX Sports 1 card, the UFC will be making a big mistake because more people need to see this guy fight, as this could truly be the man holding the UFC lightweight belt in a few years down the road.

Written by Adam Martin.

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