Just over one week after his one-sided victory over Rafaello Oliveira at UFC 162, Edson Barboza is already looking for his next fight.
“Everybody is asking me who I would like to fight next. I want to fight a top-five opponent,” Barboza recently told Sherdog.com. “As I always say, I want to be the champion. I know it is a long path to get it, [so] I want to be challenged. I don’t have any particular name, but a top-five opponent is what I ask for.”
Known as one of the lightweight division’s most devastating strikers, Barboza put forth arguably his most impressive performance to date at UFC 162, shutting down a game Oliveira who stepped in on short in place of John Makdessi. Though Oliveira fought his heart out in the July 6 encounter, he proved no match for his fellow Brazilian.
“I think when we talk about an MMA fight, there is no easier or harder fight, because every fight is a new challenge and everything can happen. When we are inside of the cage, it is 50 percent for each side. I thought both Makdessi and Rafaello would be a good fight, because I love fighting, and being able to show my work is a true blessing to me,” Barboza said of the encounter. “Makdessi and Rafaello are totally different styles. Makdessi has a good standup game, while Rafaello has a good jiu-jitsu game. Thank God I was able to finish the fight and get home with this victory.”
Barboza continually battered Oliveira’s lead leg with brutal low kicks, eventually forcing referee Herb Dean to halt the contest in the second round when it became clear that Oliveira could no longer stand against the onslaught to his left quadricep and knee.
“I figured out he was feeling it at the end of the first round,” said Barboza. “Then, I kept kicking at the same spot to finish the fight. It was such an amazing thing, but on the other hand, I watched the tape after my fight with my coaches, and we saw a lot of mistakes that we are already working on to get better.”
The victory marked the second straight triumph for Barboza, who kicked off 2013 with a first-round knockout of countryman Lucas Martins. That victory came six months after the 27-year-old was handed his first career defeat by heavy underdog Jamie Varner -- a knockout loss that Barboza believes has made him a better fighter.
“No fighter wants to lose, but I had to pass [through] this to grow and readjust my training. It was actually a good time for me and my career. After that fight I realized how important it is to me to be the champion of the world. It made me a lot mentally stronger,” said Barboza. “Also at that time, I [met] some nice people like Frankie Edgar’s team. They invited me to help him for his last fight against Ben Henderson, and I was able to see what I was doing wrong during my training camp.
“Since then, I moved my training camp up to New Jersey and brought some partners and coaches into his team. Today we all work together. It is so awesome how our training is complete now. We filled the spot they were missing in their training as they filled the spot we were missing in ours.”