Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight sluggers Shane Burgos and Edson Barboza will throw down this weekend (Sat., May 15, 2021) at UFC 262 inside Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.
Look, losing is never great, but if one has to come up short, it might as well be in a “Fight Of the Year” contender. Such is the case for Burgos, who is undefeated inside the Octagon outside of “Fight Of The Night”-winning battles with Top 5-ranked contenders. Burgos will attempt to rebound here, but either way, “The Hurricane” promises action. Full disclosure: I entirely wrote Barboza’s Featherweight move off as a terrible idea that would lead to poor performances. I’m still not sure it’s moved him any closer to the title, but Barboza has definitively proved the latter portion of that statement incorrect, fighting quite well at 145 pounds.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Cub Swanson (UFC Fight Night 151), Godofredo Pepey (UFC on FOX 25), Charles Rosa (UFC 210), Makwan Amirkhani (UFC 244)
Key Losses: Calvin Kattar (UFC 220), Josh Emmett (UFC on ESPN 11)
Keys to Victory: Burgos is a pressure fighter through and through. He stalks his opponents relentlessly, sticking long jabs while waiting for a reaction. Burgos’ finger is on a hair trigger, as he’s always waiting for his moment to slip inside with an overhand.
He’s stopped 10 of his victories inside the distance.
Historically, Barboza’s weakness comes to pressure, which bodes well for Burgos. However, as Dan Hooker found out the hard way, methodical/patient pressure can sometime equal just stepping into brutally hard shots. Instead, Burgos has to take advantage of his own gas tank Tony Ferguson-style by making this a frantic contest from the first bell.
A huge element of Burgos’ offense is body shots. Again, this is tremendous for the match up, because cutting an additional 10 pounds definitely does not help Barboza’s gas tank. If Burgos is marching him down aggressively, ripping the body whenever close, and trying to catch Barboza circling with hooks/overhands, he’s likely to return to the win column in style.
Key Wins: Anthony Pettis (UFC 197), Gilbert Melendez (UFC on FOX 20), Dan Hooker (UFC on FOX 31), Beneil Dariush (UFC Fight Night 106), Paul Felder (UFC on FOX 16)
Key Losses: Justin Gaethje (UFC on ESPN 2), Kevin Lee (UFC Fight Night 128), Khabib Nurmagomedov (UFC 219), Tony Ferguson (TUF 22 Finale), Donald Cerrone (UFC on FOX 11)
Keys to Victory: As the only man to stop opponents with kicks to the leg, mid-section and skull, Barboza is perhaps the most effective kicker in UFC history. At range, he’s simply lightning fast, and it doesn’t take many kicks to start breaking his opponent down.
One of the benefits of Barboza’s move down to 145 pounds seems to be improved punching power. We only have a short sample size, but Barboza is putting his foes on the ground with his hands more often, and perhaps that’s a real solution to his problems with pressure.
Against Burgos, earning his foe’s respect is vital. When Burgos is unconcerned with what’s coming back at him, he really lets his combinations fly, and his pressure will be unrelenting. However, when Kattar and Emmett were able to sting Burgos, he was more willing to hang back and jab — that’s precisely where Barboza can let his kicks fly.
In addition, Barboza has to focus on circling back to the center. Burgos is guilty of stalking without cutting off the cage, so there is potential for Barboza to reset himself whenever Burgos is getting a bit too close for comfort.
Both action fighters are trying to break into the Featherweight elite.
Burgos has been given a pair of chances against top-tier contenders, and neither fight ended well for him. Barboza is a perfect middle ground, an experienced veteran better than someone like Cub Swanson, but he isn’t close to the title either. If Burgos rebounds here, he’s ready to jump back in with a Top 10 foe.
Meanwhile, Barboza has a chance to break into the Top 10 here, as he should likely be 2-0 at Featherweight already. If he can follow his previous success up by taking out No. 9-ranked Burgos, that could be the start of real momentum at 145 pounds.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 262 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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At UFC 262, Shane Burgos and Edson Barboza will open the main card. Which man will have his hand raised?