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Edson Barboza suggests fight with Max Holloway next: ‘We would definitely break each other in there’

Edson Barboza punished Gilbert Melendez at UFC on FOX 20 on Saturday.
Edson Barboza (right) is coming off back-to-back wins over Makwan Amirkhani and Shane Burgos
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Edson Barboza scored his first knockout victory since moving down to the featherweight division at UFC 262, stopping Shane Burgos in round three, and wants a crack at the elite of the 145-pound class going forward.

Following back-to-back wins over Makwan Amirkhani and Burgos inside the octagon—and a controversial split decision loss to Dan Ige in 2020—Barboza hopes his next opponent is someone ranked among the five best in the UFC.

“I want to fight a top-5, man,” Barboza said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “I think I deserve to fight a top-5 given my history in the UFC. Something that motivates me to call for a top-5 opponent is knowing that it will be a great fight.”

Barboza currently sits at No. 9 in the official UFC rankings following UFC 262 in Houston, and foresees “wars” with either Calvin Kattar, “The Korean Zombie” or Yair Rodriguez. Former champion Max Holloway, ranked No. 1 today, also doesn’t have a fight booked at the moment.

“I love to fight the best,” he said. “Can you imagine a fight between Max Holloway and I? I’m a huge fan of Holloway, I love his fights, he’s one of my favorite fighters. It would be awesome, man.”

Holloway was last seen inside the octagon in January, when he put on a flawless performance against Kattar in Abu Dhabi. Barboza is currently aiming to return to action in August, and wonders if the former featherweight king is willing to dance in the cage.

“I honestly don’t know if he wants to stay active or wait for the belt,” Barboza said of Holloway, “but it would be a pleasure to fight him.”

“Blessed” touted himself as the best boxer in the UFC during and after his fight with Kattar earlier this year, and Barboza, a muay Thai specialist with devastating kicks, would love that matchup. Barboza would not call Holloway the best boxer in the promotion but “he’s one of the best, no doubt.”

“It would be a war,” Barboza said. “Imagine five rounds of brawl. We would definitely break each other in there, just like [my] last fight, and it would be a great fight. I would want it to be over soon so I could go back to my room and watch it. I’m sure it would be a war.

“He’s the best in this division. He’s not the champion, but he continues to be the best in this division. I think he won his last fight [against Volkanovski]. The first one was close, you could have given it to Volkanovski, okay, but I think he won the second one.”

Regardless of his the opponent, the American Top Team product sees himself as a better athlete today compared to his lightweight days since he doesn’t have to stay too heavy to compete at 155 pounds. The cut to 145 pounds is just as rough as his past ones for 155, Barboza said, but his diet has changed a bit.

“I think I’m more motivated than I was at lightweight,” Barboza said. “Many years there, some fights there I was just fighting, making my money and that’s it, you know? When I moved down to featherweight I felt extra motivation, a new beginning.”

“It’s easier because I don’t have to kill myself during camp. I train too much and I’m skinny, I lose weight too easily, so I had to eat bacon every day and eat pasta every night to keep my weight up. I’m healthier now, I eat healthy food all the time now. [I don’t miss bacon] because I had to eat it every day. That’s the problem. I can still eat if I want to, but I don’t have to, you know?”

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