Every time Edson Barboza steps into an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) cage, he brings with him an air of unpredictability and each time he gets his hand raised -- which is most of the time -- he moves one step closer toward a lightweight title shot.
He's no "Mystic Mac," but the 29-year-old Muay Thai master believes that the challenges he has overcome to attain the No. 7 ranking in the 155-pound division will aid him in his quest for a title shot.
"I’m more mature now, and it’s the perfect moment for me to grab that belt. I will go there and win the title next year. That’s my goal," Barboza told MMA Fighting's Guilherme Cruz. "My goal is to become the UFC champion. I believe I can, and I won’t stop until I win that title."
The potent Brazilian striker bounced back from a loss to Michael Johnson earlier this year to win a unanimous decision over late replacement Paul Felder at UFC on FOX 16 back in July (highlights here). In what was a breathtaking display of kickboxing -- or plain ol' spinning shit -- Barboza battered the legs and body of the Pennsylvanian for 15 minutes.
Not that the performance took anything away from the always-game Felder.
His prior performances include wins over Bobby Green, Evan Dunham, and Danny Castillo. Sandwiched in between those trio of victories was a first-round dismissal at the hands of current lightweight No. 1 contender Donald Cerrone at UFC on FOX 11 in April of 2014.
Steep tests, like the one he faced in "Cowboy," are exactly the kind of fights "Junior" is looking for, because as he puts it, "in my last fights, I always fought fighters who were ranked below me."
"I hope they give me one of those guys now," he continued. "Khabib Nurmagomedov, Donald Cerrone, Eddie Alvarez, Anthony Pettis ... I will fight anyone they want, and I'm sure I can beat any of them."
You can now cross "Eagle" off that list.
A match up against "Showtime" certainly would make sense for both men in terms of rankings, but also for the fans. They are two of the best strikers in the lightweight division and possess a combined 16 career knockouts.
Like Barboza, however, Pettis wants to fight the top of the food chain and has his eyes set on reclaiming the belt he lost to current 155-pound champion Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 185 back in March.
That said, Barboza doesn't concern himself with styles, as he will take on all comers. He already has a November return date in mind and it could be against the aforementioned Alvarez.
"My manager called me saying the UFC already asked him when I was going to be ready to fight," he explained. "November is perfect for me. I have no injuries and I’m anxious to fight again."