Edson Barboza is looking for a signature victory. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Edson Barboza has suffered defeat only once in his 14-fight MMA career, though a second setback seemed imminent last December, when Danny Castillo bombarded the Brazilian with a brutal first-round flurry at UFC on Fox 9.
In the end, however, Barboza edged out a majority decision victory over “Last Call,” gutting out the final two rounds to extend his current winning streak to three fights and take him one step closer to a lightweight title shot.
“I knew I had lost the first round,” Barboza told Sherdog.com this week. “At the end of the first round, I was defending and trying to do something to get out of his zone. As soon as it finished, I literally ran to my corner to see how I was doing and to hear their instructions. Ricardo Almeida came to me and said that I had to impose my game and win the next two rounds in order to win the fight. I wanted to win with all my heart, because I knew if I won, my next fight would be big. I would love to fight as many times as possible in 2014.”
Barboza was correct in his assessment, as UFC matchmaker Joe Silva booked the Team Valor representative against perennial top-10 talent Donald Cerrone. The men will square off Saturday at the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla., when the lightweights do battle at http://www.sherdog.com/events/UFC-on-Fox-11-Werdum-vs-Browne-35107.
“I had some names in my mind like Cerrone and [Nate] Diaz. I actually just wanted to fight against someone from the top 10, because I want to be the champion, and I know to reach my goal I need to pass over those guys,” Barboza said. “The UFC came up with Cerrone’s name, and I was glad to be able to fight him. He’s a good name, a good striker, and I think this matchup has everything to be a great fight. I know a win over Cerrone will put me closer to a title shot, and this is what I am looking for. I am here in the UFC to be the champion.”
Of course, to rule a division, one must first defeat the upper echelon of his class. While Barboza’s record is already quite impressive, it lacks a victory over a true top-10 foe. A win over “Cowboy” would immediately remedy that deficiency, and Barboza plans to use all facets of his game to get the job done.
“I know Cerrone is a good fighter, and this fight will be one of the best on the card,” Barboza said. “I am focused on my game, and by that, I mean that it's not a muay Thai fight. It is an MMA fight. So it might be on the ground or on the feet, and I will be ready for both.”
While Barboza has prepared for all facets of the bout, his striking skills -- particularly his ferocious leg kicks -- are no doubt still regarded by most as his calling card. However, in recent months, low kicks have been the cause of gruesome injuries to Anderson Silva and Tyrone Spong -- both of whom previously employed the technique with great success. When asked whether seeing such injuries would ever prevent him from throwing low kicks of his own, Barboza was direct in his reply.
“I don't think I do anything different from anyone else about leg kicks,” said Barboza. “I just throw them more often and am not afraid of going back to them. Spong and Anderson’s injuries were sick. I've never seen something like that. I try to not watch it often. It is hard to prevent it, so if you train the technique a lot and kick hard like they both do, it’s something that may happen.”