Undefeated hot prospect Edson
Barboza will face the most important fight of his career this
Saturday, as he faces TUF 9 winner Ross
Pearson at UFC
134. Beyond the fact that he will be fighting in his home state
Rio de Janeiro, Barboza will debut in the main card, after two
impressive wins over Mike Lullo
Njokuani that moved his MMA record to 8-0.
Brazil's hottest name in the lightweight division sees this develop
as a natural consequence of his hard work at
The Armory team in Jupiter, Fla.
“My focus is always on my work. Apart from fighting on the main
card or preliminary card, I just want to enter the octagon and do
my best, do what I know," Barboza told Sherdog.com. "It doesn't
matter where or how, it doesn't scare me."
But, that's not to say that Barboza is unaware of how his career
has been progressing since debuting in the UFC.
"It's nice to see how things are developing for me," he admitted.
"First I fought on the preliminary card, with no TV, then they put
me on Spike TV's card, and now I'm fighting on the main card, with
Against Pearson, the Novo Friburgo native will have a perfect
opportunity to show his impressive muay Thai skills against another
striker. To not get caught by Pearson's savvy boxing, he is working
on his distance game, trying to take full advantage of the nearly
four-inch reach advantage he has over the Brit.
“I always try to tip the scale in my favor. I try to use my height
advantage always, surely it can help me," he explained. "But I need
to be prepared to fight any fighter, so I train hard with small and
big guys also. Working with Luiz Cane has
been working very well for me. It helped me defeat Njokuani, who is
taller than me."
Unlike many UFC fighters, Barboza didn't always have the dream to
become a MMA star. He actually wanted to have a long and
distinguished muay Thai career, but the opportunities were
“I won everything I could in Brazilian muay Thai, but doors didn't
open to me, so my mentor Anderson Franca and my manager Alex Davis
saw better opportunities for me in the U.S., and we made the
decision to join The Armory team," he explained. "My main focus was
to fight K-1, but thank God MMA appeared to me, I saw it was what I
wanted to do and now, I don't see myself doing anything else."
One thing that has weighed on the mind of the 25-year-old is that
he will be the last one to fight before one of Brazil's greatest
fighting idols, Antonio
Rodrigo Nogueira, who returns to the UFC after an
injury-riddled 16 months to take on Brendan
Barboza has spent recent days in Rio de Janeiro at Team Nogueira,
so he has had the chance to stay closer to his idols. But, what he
is really looking forward to is Friday's weigh-ins.
“I was talking the other day with my wife Bruna and Luiz Cane,
still in disbelief that we will be in the weigh-in line beside
Silva, 'Shogun'," he smiled. "I think I'llonly believe it after
it happens. It's a dream to be in the lineup with those guys."
However, the one fighting idol that Barboza saves a special
affection for is obvious.
“I'm a huge fan of Rodrigo 'Minotauro.' I always get nervous, my
hands starts sweating when he fights. He is a guy that, when he
gets punched, it's like I've got punched too," Barboza
"He is, without a doubt, my greatest idol in MMA."