Felder was relentless with his offense as he was constantly stalking Barboza across the cage while the lightweights just battered each other over 15 straight minutes. What resulted was a painfully close decision for the second time between these two lightweights but the judges scored the fight 30-27, 29-28 and 27-30 with Felder getting the nod.
“Edson is one of the biggest studs in this division,” Felder said following the win. “This guy is an absolute warrior.”
Known as one of the most devastating strikers in UFC history, Barboza looked to set the pace early with a series of leg kicks that twisted Felder’s entire body around. Felder wasn’t deterred as he marched forward with aggression, showing no fear of engaging with Barboza in those exchanges.
Felder also had to deal with some blood flowing down his face after an accidental clash of heads left a sizable cut on his forehead. As the aggressor, Felder was looking to connect with his power punches while Barboza was accurate with his counters, which left the Philadelphia native wearing a crimson mask when the round was finished.
The variety of strikes saw Barboza attack Felder’s legs and body in several exchanges before opting for a surprising double-leg takedown. While Barboza was on top, Felder was extremely active from the bottom throwing elbows and an armbar attempt that helped him return to his feet.
As much as Barboza was still cracking off some nasty kicks in the third round, Felder was coming after him with everything left in his arsenal trying to hurt the Brazilian. With Felder marching forward with powerful hooks to the head, Barboza countered with kicks to the body and even managed to throw in a well-timed spinning back fist.
Felder’s ability to walk through those strikes had to play a part in the judges’ decision as he just kept marching forward, looking to take off Barboza’s head with every punch he threw. The fight ended with two exhausted lightweights but Felder was able to get the split decision victory and now he’s targeting the top fighters in the division.
“All you top five guys out there, you can’t run no more,” Felder shouted. “Come in here and get some [Justin] Gaethje, Tony [Ferguson], Conor [McGregor], I don’t care who you are. I’m only in here to be in here with the best.”