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As a casual fight fan reading the headline Edson Barboza Featherweight Champion some may be surprised. After a long run in the Lightweight division defeating names such as Dan Hooker, Paul Felder, and Beneil Dariush; Barboza has decided to drop down to the Featherweight Division to make one final run for a belt.

Barboza has always been known as one of the top strikers in the division, having been a part of some of the greatest knockouts in UFC History. Most notably, Barboza is known for his spinning heel-kick knockout of former UFC contender Terry Etim.

Unfortunately, after years in the division Edson had fought the best of the best including losses to Khabib Nurmagomedov, Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje which left him without a clear path to the belt in the foreseeable future. It had become around the sport the 155 weight division was considerably the most stacked division and that nobody was going to dethrone the then king of the division Khabib.

Following Barboza’s split division loss at UFC 242 to Paul Felder, which a large portion of fight fans think Barboza won, he and his team were forced to make a career altering division to have him drop ten pounds to the featherweight division. In recent years we have seen it to be increasingly difficult for fighters on the second half of there career to drop down a weight class rather than moving up.

In his first fight in the featherweight division, he was stacked up against none other than featherweight contender Dan Ige, where he once against appeared on the wrong side of a split decision. After the rocky start, fans could see a new hunger in Barboza that he would take with him in his next two wins versus Makwan Amirkhani and then ranked #9 contender Shane Burgos. In Barboza’s fight against Shane Burgos he was one again part of one of the craziest knockouts in UFC History seeing Shane Burgos falling backwards in a delayed fashion after a punch had landed earlier in the round.

What is next for Edson Barboza?

While the 145 pound division is stacked, it is also filled with opportunity for Barboza. Edson is currently ranked #9 in the featherweight division and in his next fight he has a variety of options including contenders Yair Rodriguez and Calvin Kattar. At this stage in his career with limited fight time probably Barboza should play it smart with who he fights and take the quickest path to the belt he can fight. For Barboza to win to fight for the belt he will need at least two more wins against top 10 contenders. As one of top strikers in the game if Barboza were to go up against Volkanovski it is possible with his strong ground defense and that Barboza could win the belt. This year has been the year of the Journeyman with Jan Błachowicz and Brandon Moreno both winning belts in their prospective division and the next question is will Barboza be the next?

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