After over a decade of fighting at 155-pounds, Edson Barboza says his drop down to 145-pounds is not a “test” ahead of his featherweight debut this weekend.
Originally linked with a fight against Josh Emmett, Barboza (20-8) will instead fight Dan Ige (13-2) at UFC Jacksonville this Saturday. The 34-year-old Brazilian fought the best names at lightweight during his time in the division, such as Tony Ferguson, Justin Gaethje and current champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Talking to MMA Fighting, Barboza said he wanted a new challenge with the move down a weight class.
“I fought pretty much everyone in the weight class above and was always fighting people ranked behind me,” Barboza said. “I wanted to, I don’t know, a new challenge. It was getting boring (at lightweight), to keep fighting people ranked behind me. I didn’t move up with a win and kept coming down with a loss. It was getting boring, I wanted new motivation. This is the new motivation, to switch weight classes.”
Although Barboza never fought for the lightweight title, he is confident that a win over Ige can get him a top-five opponent in his next fight and eventually get him a chance to fight for the belt too.
“That’s one of the goals I had when I went down,” Barboza said. “This division is not as jammed because people actually fight, especially the champion. The 155 division is jammed because most of the time the champion doesn’t fight. I have a history in the UFC, and a good debut and a good win in my next fight, I can get a top-5 and have my chance for the belt too.”
UFC Jacksonville takes place this Saturday, May 16th, at the Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida. The card will be headlined by a heavyweight fight between Alistair Overeem and Walt Harris.