After seeing a huge opportunity slip through his hands when he was submitted by No. 4 Donald Cerrone at April’s UF on FOX 11, No. 11-ranked UFC lightweight Edson Barboza rebounded well with a vicious first round finish of Evan Dunham at July’s UFC Fight Night 45 from New Jersey.
The win earned him a shot at rising No. 7 contender Bobby “King” Green, who most recently earned the biggest win of his career when he outlasted former Strikeforce champ Josh Thomson at July’s UFC on FOX 12, in the co-main event of tomorrow night’s (November 22, 2014) UFC Fight Night 57.
Apparently Barboza is in the best shape of his life for the bout, telling Tatame that he’ll knock Green out if he makes only one mistake:
“My preparation was the best. I have never been so well trained and I feel better in every way, whether in the ground game, standing, physically and mentally. If he gives a misstep, the fight ends. At the first opportunity that comes, I’ll knock him out.”
Known for his vaunted Muay Thai background (especially his lethal low kicks), Barboza said he’s been focusing on that dangerous part of his game in order to keep Green at range:
“The legs are sharp, kicked a lot in practice. How to have a good wingspan and my game is based on trying to keep the distance, I think the kicks give me a good advantage. He is a great fighter, who does not lose time. His fights are always very tough, and he is one of the most well ranked guys in the lightweight. I am very happy to meet one of the best.”
Barboza’s outlook is an extremely positive one as he attempts to build another UFC win streak. Yet we’ve seen him win fight after fight before, only to lose all of his momentum by losing bouts he could have otherwise won.
It happened against Jamie Varner at UFC 146, and it happened at UFC on FOX 11 after Barboza was thoroughly outclassing Cerrone before getting caught. He’s tasked with an opponent who definitely has all the skills to stop Barboza’s rise once again; it’s arguable that Green is his toughest test outside of Cerrone.
In “King,” he’ll meet an opponent who has been understandably shook by a recent family tragedy, one that has made him consider retiring from the fight game altogether. That could put him in a tenuous mental state come Saturday night, or it could motivate him to fight his best against Barboza.
With several dynamics in play, it should come down to whoever can maintain a laser-like focus in Austin. Both have undeniable talent in the cage, and both have their own distractions in place.
Will it be Barboza or Green who pushes their concerns to the side to win the pivotal 155-pound showdown?
Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports