In spite of being in the midst of the first losing streak of his career, Edson Barboza claims his scheduled clash with Dan Hooker this weekend is just a fight like any other.
Barboza returns to the Octagon on Saturday night to face surging the New Zealander in the co-main event of UFC on Fox 31. Barboza spoke to MMA Junkie ahead of the highly anticipated fight with Hooker and said that despite being on a two-fight losing skid, he’s feeling no pressure heading into the bout.
“Of course [there’s] no pressure,” Barboza said. “I feel zero pressure. I don’t put pressure on my shoulders because sometimes it’s a win, sometimes it’s a loss, and the most important one is the next one. That’s the fight to have -- the next. No pressure. It’s one more fight. … He’s a great fighter. He’s a top guy, and my whole life in the UFC, almost 20 fights in the UFC, I’ve fought the best guys in the world. Hooker’s not different. He’s one of the best. I know if I go there and give my best, I’m going to win this fight. That’s the game plan. Go there, have fun, give my best. If I go there and give my best, I’m going to win this fight.”
Barboza’s stated attitude toward the fight seems in line with his “Road to the Octagon” promotional video, where Barboza’s coach observes that he has not seen his fighter this happy in a long time, and credits his move back to Florida from New Jersey for the change.
UFC on Fox 31 takes place Saturday, Dec. 15 at Fiserv Arena in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and is headlined by the rematch between lightweight contenders Kevin Lee and Al Iaquinta. It is the final event of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s seven-year relationship with Fox, before the promotion embarks on its deal with new broadcast partner ESPN in 2019.