In the UFC 219 co-main event, undefeated lightweight contender Khabib Nurmagomedov cemented his case for a title shot, as he beat up a tough but overmatched Edson Barboza in Las Vegas, Nevada. Barboza took an absolute beating on the ground, but showed tremendous heart to last the distance.
Barboza fired off three leg kicks within the first 15 seconds. He was very sharp with his kicks (as you would expect), but Khabib stayed pressuring him, threw a couple of right hands, and went for a takedown. Barboza did an excellent job of stopping it, but he wouldn’t be as successful the next time. Nurmagomedov dropped some nasty punches and elbows from the top. Barboza was eating those strikes flush and frequently, as Nurmagomedov searched for full mount and got it. Edson did well to get out of mount, and it didn’t matter, as Khabib postured him up against the fence and wailed on him. Khabib got to mount again, Barboza spun out of it, and absorbed more punishing elbows. Nurmagomedov couldn’t get the choke as the round ended, so he resorted to more punches. Barboza wobbled back to the corner after the horn sounded.
Nurmagomedov popped the jab on Barboza, who was on his bicycle and essentially in survival mode. A head kick appeared to catch Edson, who had another takedown to defend. Barboza stuffed it, then went for a wheel kick, which was blocked and then he fell down. Edson landed some good body punches, but Khabib walked through it like it was nothing. Barboza was noticeably wearing down and Nurmagomedov doggedly got him down with over two minutes to go in round 2. Khabib punched his opponent umpteen more times, the Brazilian’s face an absolute mess. Even as Barboza was on one knee and trying to get up, he got socked several more times, and then Khabib dragged him to his back and delivered more punishment.
Barboza got off a few leg kicks to start the final round, but Khabib chased him down and whacked him with some power punches, then he changed levels and was in on a double-leg. Barboza posted up with his right hand, and to his credit, he was stifling the vaunted wrestling of Khabib. He even landed a spinng kick, whiffed on his next one, and Khabib took him down again. More punches, and more punches, and more punches. Edson was a punching bag on the ground, then got to his feet for the final seconds. It was a superb showing from Khabib, who is 25-0 in his MMA career, and one of Conor McGregor or Tony Ferguson has to be next for him.
Official result: Khabib Nurmagomedov def. Edson Barboza by unanimous decision (30-25, 30-25, 30-24)