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Coach believes Edson Barboza would have lasted longer had Justin Gaethje not poked him in the eye

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It looks like Edson Barboza suffered an eye poke just moments before he was knocked out by Justin Gaethje.

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Edson Barboza suffered the first clean knockout loss of his career at UFC on ESPN 2, losing to heavy-hitting brawler Justin Gaethje in the first round of the main event at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

It was an outstanding performance by Gaethje, and Barboza gave full credit to his opponent for the win, but it looks like ‘The Highlight’ landed an unintentional eye poke on Barboza at some point in the first round.

Barboza’s longtime coach, Anderson Franca, highlighted the damage ‘Junior’ sustained due to the eye poke and claims the fight would have lasted longer had Gaethje not committed the foul.

“I really thought this would have been one of the best fights of the year,” Franca posted on Instagram on Tuesday (translation via Bloody Elbow’s Lucas Rezende). “Justin Gaethje Is an excellent fighter, he is among the best in the world, for sure. We have much respect for him and his team. I don’t know if the result would have been any different or not, but I believe the fight would have been longer if it weren’t for this incident. We appreciate the support from everyone, I can guarantee we gave 100% to represent our country. Cheers to everyone.”

Although Barboza was clearly fouled, the Brazilian didn’t signal to the referee that he was hurt and needed time to recover.

The bout marked Barboza’s third loss in his last four fights, but the lightweight standout is still ranked in the top-ten and considered one of the most dangerous fighters in the division.