Barboza was poked in the right eye 42 seconds into the main event bout, almost two minutes before Gaethje dropped and finished the Nova Friburgo native with a heavy right hand.
On his Instagram page, Barboza’s manager Alex Davis posted a picture of the eye poke, adding “no excuses but this dictated the fight.”
Barboza’s longtime coach Anderson Franca also wrote about it on social media, adding a photo of Barboza’s eye post-fight.
“I really think this fight could have been one of the best fights of the year, Justin Gaethje is an excellent fighter and is definitely among the best in the world,” Franca wrote in Portuguese. “We have much respect for him and his team. I don’t know if the result would have been different or not, but we believe the fight would have been longer if not for this incident.”
View this post on Instagram
Realmente acho q essa luta seria uma das melhores luta do ano, o @justin_gaethje è um excelente lutador, está com certeza entre os melhores do mundo.Temos muito respeito por ele e sua equipe, n sei se o resultado seria outro ou não, mas acredito q a luta teria sido bem mais longa, se n houvesse esse incidente.Agradecemos o carinho de todos, posso garantir q nos doamos 100 porcento p representar nosso país. Grande abraço a todos
The defeat dropped Barboza’s UFC record to 14-7. Both lightweights earned a Fight of the Night bonus following their one-round clash in Philadelphia.