Edson Barboza understands the importance of not allowing a loss to derail his belief in himself

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - APRIL 15: Edson Barboza celebrates his victory over Billy Quarantillo in a featherweight bout during UFC Fight Night Kansas City on April 15, 2023, at T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Matt Davies/PxImages/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Edson Barboza snapped a two-fight losing skid by defeating Billy Quarantillo in April. (Matt Davies/Getty Images) (Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Discover the tale of two fighters with shared dreams and aspirations. Fighter A, with an impressive record of 19-4, including 12 finishes and victories over notable opponents such as Beneil Dariush, Gilbert Melendez, Anthony Pettis, Paul Gelder, and Bobby Green. Despite never having fought for the title, Fighter A always seemed on the cusp, waiting for the right opportunity.

Fighter A has also been part of five bouts named Fight of the Night, earning Performance of the Night and Knockout of the Night bonuses.

On the other hand, Fighter B holds a record of 4-7, with three knockout victories. Wins over Dan Hooker, Makwan Amirkhani, Shane Burgos, and Billy Quarantillo decorate Fighter B’s resume. Fighter B has participated in two Fight of the Night contests and two Performance of the Night performances. Despite a recent string of losses, Fighter B’s ambition to compete for the title remains unwavering.

Both fighters possess fan-friendly fighting styles, resulting in highly anticipated matchups for devoted MMA fans.

It may come as a surprise, but Fighter A and Fighter B are both Edson Barboza. Throughout his remarkable 19-4 run, Barboza competed primarily in the lightweight division, earning a solid 13-4 record within the UFC.

However, Fighter B, also Barboza, has struggled with a 4-7 record since UFC 219 in 2017, where he suffered a unanimous decision loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov, who would eventually be enshrined in the UFC Hall of Fame.

In the main event of UFC Vegas 81, Barboza will face Sodiq Yusuff, aiming to prove his worth and continue his pursuit of a championship. Despite his recent results not reflecting it, Barboza believes he is currently the best version of himself as a fighter.

In regards to his championship aspirations, Barboza admits to not merely dreaming but being fully aware of his capabilities. He attributes his mental strength and lifelong experience in sports for dealing with the anxiety caused by losses. Barboza’s post-loss emotions are intense, yet he maintains a belief in his ability to rebound and secure victories. However, he remains grounded in reality, acknowledging that success in this sport is uncertain.

Edson Barboza, left, looks to punch Paul Felder during their lightweight mixed martial arts bout during UFC Chicago on Saturday, July 25, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Jeff Haynes)

Edson Barboza (L) is 23-11 heading into his fight Saturday at Apex in Las Vegas against Sodiq Yusuff. (Jeff Haynes/The Associated Press) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Currently ranked 13th in the featherweight division, two spots behind Yusuff, Barboza understands that a title shot might remain elusive. However, an impressive victory over Yusuff could propel him to as high as 10th in the rankings, opening up possibilities. Once a fighter reaches the top 10, anything can happen. If Barboza manages to secure three consecutive wins, he could finally receive the title opportunity he has always desired.

Barboza’s experience has helped him control his emotions. Like many fighters, he experiences nervousness before a fight. Nonetheless, Barboza has learned to redirect those fears into positive energy.

Despite his apprehensions, Barboza appreciates the emotional journey that comes with being a professional fighter. He embraces the challenges, the doubts, and the responsibilities that arise when stepping into the cage. Overcoming these obstacles allows him to perform at his peak. Barboza recognizes that in this sport, not everything will go according to plan, even if he does everything right. It is precisely this uncertainty that attracts him to MMA.

Barboza speaks highly of Yusuff’s physical strength and overall skills, acknowledging that Yusuff’s talent and higher ranking provide extra motivation to perform at his best. Barboza is eager to give an entertaining performance and continue his quest for the featherweight championship.

Although Barboza’s recent records may suggest otherwise, his career trajectory instills in him the belief that success is attainable through hard work, self-belief, continuous improvement, and staying focused amidst distractions.


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