When it comes to talented and crowded divisions in the mixed martial arts (MMA) landscape today, there is none more better that fits that description than the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight division.
Ben Henderson was recently crowned the new champion three months ago with his unanimous decision victory at UFC 144 over former champion and current number one contender, Frankie Edgar. Nate Diaz recently earned the right to fight for the title next with a dominating second round submission victory over Jim Miller at UFC on Fox 3 and will take on the winner of the bout between "Smooth" and "The Answer" at UFC 150 on Aug., 11, 2012.
After that, there is a log-jam of fighters ready to get their opportunity to vie for the 155-pound crown, who have more than enough skills to wear the title around their waist at any given time. Let's not forget the UFC may soon add yet another talented competitor to its ranks if Eddie Alvarez decides to make the jump over from Bellator.
With names such as Anthony Pettis, Donald Cerrone, Gray Maynard and Clay Guida lingering around, it may be easy to overlook another person who is more "in the mix" than people may give him credit for and seems to get lost in the shuffle amongst other "big name" fighters.
That person is none other than "Fight Night" bonus magnet, Edson Barboza, who has won four straight fights in the UFC and boasts a perfect overall record after winning his first 10 contests. Barboza is coming off one of the most spectacular knockouts in recent memory, stiffening Terry Etim at UFC 142 with a spinning heel kick back on Jan.,14, 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Now, the Brazilian will look to keep riding his momentum as he takes on former World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) lightweight champion Jamie Varner, who got the call back to the big leagues after an injury forced Evan Dunham to bow out at UFC 146 on Memorial Day Weekend (May 26, 2012) in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Speaking to Low Kick, "Junior" discusses his upcoming bout with Varner as well as the possibility of taking on another exciting lightweight in Anthony Pettis down the road, as well as his knack for picking up post-fight bonuses.
Check it out:
"Haha Man, I didn't think about this (picking up Fight Night bonus). I've been training a lot jiu-jitsu, wrestling and nogi with the best grapplers in the world as Pablo Popovitch and others. I had some trainings with Mario Sperring too. So, I want to do a good fight. I've never thought about to fight to get bonuses. I always think about to fight for doing a good job and doing what I love to do."
Should Barboza get past the veteran Varner at UFC 146, he will inch himself closer to a potential title shot, but as he states, that isn't really his mindset at the moment, he just wants to perform:
"I don't know, but I hope so. Actually, I am not worried about this for now. I want to be fighting against the best fighters in the world. I want to win my space step by step. I am not in a hurry. I know I am in a really hard division, and it keeps me motivated to train harder and harder. Today I am focused on my next fight. I want to do my best inside the octagon. What will happen after that, it is in God's hands."
With Anthony Pettis losing out once again on a title shot for the foreseeable future to Nate Diaz, it is likely that "Showtime" will take another fight in the interim instead of waiting around. Perhaps a number one contender's bout between he and Barboza is destined to happened down the line, assuming of course he gets past Varner:
"I don't know, maybe so. But as I said I am focused on my next fight. So, I neither think about who will be my next opponent, nor about what the people are saying. Pettis is a great fighter. He already won the current champion of this division. This could be a great fight, truly a war. As I said I love being able to fight, I love my job. I want to be fighting against the best ones. Whoever it is, I want to fight. Varner is a great fighter. He was WEC champion. If he is back to UFC it means that he is tough. I don't see his weakness or the strongest point of him. My focus is on my game and on what I must do."
The bout between Edson and Pettis would be highly entertaining as both have proven that their stand-up game is no joke and seem to make it a habit to entertain fans with their preference to stay on the feet.
First things first, however, as "Junior" will have his work cut out for him as Varner has proven in the past that he is a very formidable opponent and will be looking to make a splash of his own in his return to the the world's leading MMA promotion.
What's your take Maniacs, does a future showdown between Barboza and Pettis makes sense for a potential 155-pound number one contender bout should he get past Varner? Or will "C-4" ruin any and all chances of that happening with a breakout performance of his own in "Sin City?"