Edson Barboza’s run in the UFC includes some highlight reel knockouts and devastating leg kick finishes, but his win streaks are snapped every time he gets closer to the top of the division. Jamie Varner and Donald Cerrone stopped him in the past, but he wants to change this routine.
Barboza, who returns to the Octagon at the co-main event of Wednesday night’s UFC Fight Night 45 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, against longtime UFC veteran Evan Dunham, expects a war.
"Dunham is a warrior. He always walks forward even if he’s getting beat up,’ Barboza told MMAFighting.com. "He’s a true warrior, always has great fights, and that’s why I’m excited for this bout. I know it’s going to be a war. Let’s brawl in there.
"He stands and fights with anyone, but it’s a MMA fight. If I hit him, I know he will go for a takedown, but I’m ready for this type of fight as well."
The muay Thai expert welcomes a grappling match with Dunham, who scored submissions in six of his 14 MMA wins, and says that’s the key for his striking attacks.
"I’m getting more comfortable on the ground every day, and that helps my striking game," he said. "My coaches and training partners know me. I have yet to show everything I can inside the Octagon. You haven’t seen the best Edson Barboza yet. I will unleash my striking better in this fight because I’m more comfortable with the wrestling and jiu-jitsu."
Barboza was submitted for the first time in his MMA career against Cerrone in April, and he changed a few things in his training camp after that loss.
"I’m more than ready. I’ve never been this ready for a fight in my entire life," he said. "I didn’t change much in my training camp, I only focused more on my defense and fixed a mistake I did in my last fight. I didn’t change much, but trained more than ever for this fight."
"I watched that fight a thousand times," he continued. "I was waiting for his punches to counter, I was letting him punch me and I didn’t see the punch that dropped me. This is one of the things you can’t let them do to you in MMA because the glove is too small. I fixed that mistake during my camp and I won’t let this happen again.
"One week after the fight they gave me another fight… It’s like (that loss) never happened. That’s why I’m so hungry to fight again."
At 28 years old and a 7-2 run in the UFC, the lightweight fighter still targets the UFC title.
"I will get there," Barboza guarantees. "Soon or later, I will get there. I know it."