Edson Barboza will look to end his recent string of misfortune when he moves down to featherweight and challenges rising contender Dan Ige later this evening (Sat., May 16, 2020) at UFC on ESPN 8 live on ESPN and ESPN+ from inside VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida.
Barboza, 34, has been a member of the UFC’s lightweight division since 2010. He has become one of the most respected strikers and sought-after contenders the weight class has to offer, which led the Brazilian to fight elite competition like Khabib Nurmagomedov, Justin Gaethje, Tony Ferguson, Anthony Pettis, Kevin Lee, Paul Felder, and many others.
However, since winning just one out of his last five Octagon appearances at the lightweight level Barboza has decided to drop down in weight and test his luck at 145 pounds. After all, the lightweight scene wasn’t going to offer anything new and exciting for the hungry veteran.
“I fought pretty much everyone in the weight class above and was always fighting people ranked behind me,” Barboza told MMA Fighting. “I wanted to, I don’t know, a new challenge. It was getting boring (at lightweight), to keep fighting people ranked behind me. I didn’t move up with a win and kept coming down with a loss. It was getting boring, I wanted new motivation. This is the new motivation, to switch weight classes.”
Barboza sure looked good for his featherweight weigh-in earlier this week in Jacksonville, but it was never guaranteed that “Junior” would be making another walk to the Octagon. Earlier this year, Barboza asked for his UFC release after being unable to secure a bout agreement, stating that “it’s time to move on.”
The Brazilian fighter has since mended his relationship with UFC and is ready to prove his worth this weekend at UFC on ESPN 8 against a tough opponent like Ige.
“This kid is ranked in the top-15 and is coming off a bunch of wins in the UFC, so it’s gonna be great to test myself against one of the best,” said Barboza. “He’s tough, he doesn’t give up, brawls it out, so he’s a great fighter. It’s gonna be a great fight, for sure.”
If Barboza is able to take out Ige in his featherweight debut it will catapult him up the rankings entering the second half of 2020. The former lightweight is already regarded as one of the best strikers in the sport so a little success in a new weight class is enough to put Barboza in the title hunt at 145 pounds.
“That’s one of the goals I had when I went down,” Barboza said. “This division is not as jammed because people actually fight, especially the champion. The 155 division is jammed because most of the time the champion doesn’t fight. I have a history in the UFC, and a good debut and a good win in my next fight, I can get a top-5 and have my chance for the belt too.”
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC on ESPN 8 fight card blow, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” undercard bouts at 6 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN/ESPN+ main card start time at 9 p.m. ET.
For more news and notes on UFC on ESPN 8 click here.