After an impressive decision triumph over Gilbert Melendez at UFC on Fox 20, Edson Barboza believes he is ready to spend a little bit more time in the Octagon.
“I have five guys in front of me in the rankings. If the UFC gives me one of those guys I’m ready. I think I’m ready to fight five rounds,” Barboza said on Fox Sports 1. “That’s my fourth co-main event. Please UFC, give me a chance to fight five rounds. I’m ready for this.”
The 30-year-old Brazilian was in control for much of the fifteen minutes against Melendez, a former Strikeforce and World Extreme Cagefighting 155-pound champion. While “El Nino” rocked his foe with an overhand right in the second frame, his lead leg took a beating over the course of the bout, leaving him unable to provide the necessary aggression to sway the scorecards down the stretch.
“Physically, I’m a bit banged up. My leg took a beating,” Melendez admitted. “In the third I was really trying to apply pressure and that left me open to that leg kick. It made it hard to pressure him because my leg got chopped in the third. But I had a hell of a good time. It was fun being out there again and against such a good guy. I just couldn’t close the distance as well as I wanted to.”
According to Barboza, a couple key adjustments allowed him to implement his game plan more effectively.
“The first two kicks I threw 100 percent and he countered with the right hand,” Barboza said. “My coach told me, you have to start playing with your hands first or [kick] when he steps. And that’s the key. Every time he stepped in I threw a kick.”
Barboza is a training partner of newly-crowned lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez, so an immediate title shot seems unlikely. Still, there are plenty of options for a surging fighter with victories in three of his last four Octagon appearances. At the top of his list are three of the division’s best: Rafael dos Anjos, Khabib Nurmagomedov or Tony Ferguson.
Barboza seemed particularly interested in avenging a December loss to Ferguson, a bout he took on short notice when Nurmagomedov withdrew due to a rib injury.
“I say dos Anjos is a good fight or Khabib or Ferguson. I think a rematch with Ferguson is going to be a good fight. Of course no excuse, but I fought him on just five weeks’ camp…I think if I fight with him three or five rounds it’d be a big war and everybody would see a good fight.