When it comes to depth of talent, it’s no secret that one weight
class in the UFC towers above all others. It’s the lightweight
division, and the list of title contenders currently occupying its
upper half includes Ben
Cerrone, Nate Diaz,
Lauzon, Clay Guida and
Miller, not to mention talk that Strikeforce champ Gilbert
Melendez is nearly ready to make the leap.
Another man quickly making a name for himself is 155-pound
Barboza, recently announced for action against England’s
Etim at UFC
142 in Rio de Janeiro. The unbeaten Barboza, who holds a 3-0
mark inside the Octagon, was expecting to face a Top 10 fighter,
but says he wasn’t at all disappointed to draw Etim.
“I’m always expecting to face top-ranked guys,” Barboza told
Sherdog.com on Tuesday. “But, I’m an employee and the UFC dictates
the orders. I’m not disappointed, not at all. Etim is such a tough
guy and I’m sure if the UFC decided to match us up, it’s because
they expect a great fight. So do I.”
Etim, who has previously trained under Brazilian luta livre expert
Marcelo Brigadeiro, possesses a strong grappling background which
could serve as a foil to the skills of muay Thai convert Barboza.
While the 25-year-old phenom is only a BJJ blue belt, Barboza has
an ace up his gi sleeve: the Nova Friburgo native is currently
polishing his ground game with jiu-jitsu legend Pablo
Popovitch and recent world champions Raphael
Chaves and Marcus “Bochecha” Almeida.
“I want to take the pace from those guys and train BJJ even more,”
he explained. “I’m not going to do anything new, because I’m not
really worried about what my opponent is going to do. I’ll work as
I always do, just with more attention to his guillotines and arm
attacks on the ground.”
Should he nab a fourth straight UFC win, Barboza will become a true
lightweight contender. Yet, even with that possibility looming, the
young Brazilian sees a weight cut as a distinct possibility in the
“I don’t have any trouble making 155 pounds,” he revealed. “I’ve
already competed many times at 145 pounds as a muay Thai fighter.
I’ve already told my manager, Alex Davis, that I feel great at
lightweight, but that a weight drop is a real possibility. Who
knows? In the future, if I get a good opportunity, I believe I
could do good work at featherweight, too.”