It’s amazing how much a highlight-reel knockout can help and hurt a fighter at the same time. Edson Barboza knows the feeling all too well. Following his highlight-reel finish of Terry Etim, most MMA fans were all aboard the hype train. A 10-0 record prior to that helped fuel the locomotive.
At that point, some granted Barboza the status of title prospect or future contender. Then came the wall that stopped the hype train dead in its tracks. A resurgent Jamie Varner made short work of the Brazilian at UFC 146. Since then, Barboza has been pushed back to the undercard and is barely mentioned anymore.
It’s certain that Barboza was riding high after he was able to land a picture perfect spinning wheel kick on Etim, but the Varner KO brought him back to earth. Now Barboza must make the ascension back to relevance. In his past two outings, Barboza has finished Lucas “Mineiro” Martins and Rafaello Oliveira. Martins was 12-0 heading into his UFC debut against Barboza, and Oliveira was 3-2 in his previous five fights prior to Barboza.
In both of his recent victories, Barboza has done his damage on the feet. That is the area Barboza dominates. His leg kicks can end fights. On the feet is where Barboza needs to keep the fight on Saturday against Danny Castillo. Castillo is an opponent that will look to take him down. If Barboza can keep the fight standing, he can KO/TKO Castillo for the win.
If he pulls off the victory against Castillo, it will give Barboza three in a row. Though he doesn’t have a strong signature win ,(his strongest victory is a split-decision over Ross Pearson), it should be enough to gain Barboza a spot on a main card in a future televised event. That would put him one step closer at being relevant in the UFC’s deepest division.