The Brazilian lightweight Barboza, the only fighter in UFC history to finish two fights via leg kicks, takes on Team Alpha Male’s Castillo on Dec. 14 in Sacramento, Calif,, and he'd like nothing better than to add another quick win to his MMA record.
"I always go there to finish my opponent the fastest I can with a submission or a knockout," he told MMAFighting.com. "I’m ready to fight for 15 minutes, but the goal is always finishing the fight quickly."
Barboza is 12-1 in MMA and has stopped four of his seven fights inside the Octagon. The muay Thai specialist says he's feeling more comfortable inside the cage each time out, which will allow him to showcase a broader arsenal of his weaponry.
"Leg kicks are not something a lot of people believe in when it comes to MMA, but I know it’s one of the most effective things," he says. "When someone takes three leg kicks, they are forced to change their whole game plan. It’s something that I love to do and it’s working. Maybe I’ll do that in my next fight, or maybe I’ll just punch and won’t use my kicks. Who knows?
"I’m feeling very comfortable on the ground," he continues. "Sometimes I’m way too comfortable. My coaches say ‘get off the ground,' but I’m feeling comfortable, man. Getting comfortable with my jiu-jitsu and wrestling will allow me to show my striking game more. I haven’t shown what I can do yet. I’m feeling more confident every day not only to defend the takedown, but taking my opponent down, too. It’s going to be great."
Barboza has defeated the likes of Anthony Njokuani, Ross Pearson and Terry Etim in the UFC, but a shocking loss to Jamie Varner in 2012 has pushed him back in the rankings. Coming off two dominant victories since then, though, the Brazilian had hoped to fight someone with a little more name value than Castillo at this point.
"I was hoping for someone better ranked, to tell you the truth, but Danny Castillo is a really tough opponent," he says. "The main thing is that I wanted to fight, man, no matter who it is. I respect him as I’d respect any opponent, so the most important thing is that I’m fighting. The goal is get closer to the title -- and there's no rush, it's step by step. I’m training a lot, getting more comfortable in the UFC. That’s a fight that will get me closer to the title."
After Barboza's last outing, in which he finished AMA's Rafaello Oliveira with leg kicks, he had hoped to fight early in November. He spent some time training on the East Coast, focusing a lot on his grappling skills with the likes of former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar and Ricardo Almeida.
"I trained in New Jersey for four weeks, working on my wrestling four times a week," he says. "I’ve been training a lot of jiu-jitsu with Almeida and wrestling here, also working on my boxing to complement my muay Thai game.
"I’m a MMA fighter," he continues. "Sometimes I’ll have to go for the takedown and work on the ground and pound to get the win, and that’s what I’m going to do. I can fight wrestling and jiu-jitsu with anyone."