Following three straight wins including a ‘Knockout of the Year’ candidate in his last fight, Edson Barboza is gunning for gold and he wants a rematch with Tony Ferguson to earn it.
Fresh off a devastating finish against Beneil Dariush in March, Barboza is anxiously awaiting word on his next fight but he hopes Ferguson is willing to accept his challenge.
Barboza fell to Ferguson in 2015 in a fight he accepted on short notice after Khabib Nurmagomedov suffered an injury that knocked him off the card.
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Since that time, Barboza has taken out former champion Anthony Pettis, two-time title contender Gilbert Melendez and with his most recent highlight reel finish, he’s ready for another shot at Ferguson.
“I think that’s the fight,” Barboza told FOX Sports about the matchup with Ferguson. “I don’t know what the UFC is going to do with Khabib [Nurmagomedov] but I’m ready to fight. Of course, I want to fight somebody in front of me [in the rankings] and I think only Ferguson is available.
“My last three fights I won, I’m sure I’m close to the title shot. That’s the fight that makes sense for me. That’s the fight that makes sense for him.”
As much as fighting for an interim title while current champion Conor McGregor is pursuing a boxing match with Floyd Mayweather would mean to Barboza, the opportunity to avenge a loss might mean even more.
Barboza never wants to make any excuses when he comes up short against an opponent, but he can’t deny the circumstances that surrounded his first fight against Ferguson.
“It was short notice, I only had four weeks to train. He has skills, of course, but I only had four weeks, I was on vacation in Brazil and my manager called me for the fight with Ferguson. I said let’s go,” Barboza said. “You guys saw it was a big war, I think I won the first round. I think the second round, he caught me with a good choke.
“I know if I had a full camp like nine weeks, ten weeks of training, this is not going to happen again.”
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
More than anything, Barboza would like the chance to face Ferguson in a main event so he could have five rounds to deal with the top ranked lightweight contender.
Barboza has worked tirelessly on improving in the areas that cost him in the first fight and he guarantees that Ferguson would be in for a big surprise when stepping into the Octagon with him again for a second time.
“One thing that make me very excited, you guys saw what I did in a round and a half [against Tony Ferguson] — imagine if this was going to be five rounds,” Barboza stated. “That makes me very excited. I hope the UFC gives me the opportunity again for five rounds. That’s going to be a crazy fight. Maybe one of the best fights of the year.”
As much as Barboza states his case about why a rematch with Ferguson makes sense, he also understands that the other options available are rather limited.
McGregor is busy going after a boxing match with Mayweather while Khabib Nurmagomedov is expected to be out until at least September after suffering through a brutal weight cut that forced him out of his last scheduled bout with Ferguson in March. Nurmagomedov also observes Ramadan, which means he won’t be accepting any fights around those dates either.
Ferguson has asked to fight Nate Diaz, but the former title contender has shown little interest in the matchup ever since his name was called several weeks ago. Former champion Eddie Alvarez is matched up with Dustin Poirier at UFC 211 while Rafael dos Anjos is moving to 170 pounds for his next fight against Tarec Saffiedine in June.
That leaves Barboza as the only top five opponent for Ferguson to face if he wants to fight again any time soon.
“My last two fights, I fought somebody behind me in the rankings. I hope the UFC gives me the opportunity to fight somebody in front of me and the only guy available is Tony,” Barboza said. “I hope the UFC gives me the opportunity to fight him. Rafael [dos Anjos] is out, he’s going to 170. Eddie [Alvarez] is my training partner and my friend. Khabib is out. Only Tony is left.”
Barboza says a fight with Ferguson at UFC 213 in July would be perfect timing for his return and if there was an interim title on the line that only makes the matchup that much better.
He’s just waiting on Ferguson to accept his challenge and the UFC to officially make the offer.
“If it’s a fight for the interim title, five rounds, I’m going to train like crazy. That’s a big difference. A full camp, I’d be 100-percent, I keep training to get better and better. They give me a full camp for the fight, I’m going to win the fight,” Barboza said.
“It will be the best Edson Barboza to step inside the Octagon.”