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Edson Barboza explains why he asked for UFC release before drop to featherweight

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Edson Barboza wanted to say active, says UFC left him without a fight for months.

UFC Fight Night: Weigh-ins Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Former lightweight contender Edson Barboza finally explained why he asked to be released from his UFC contract a couple of months ago on Twitter. In an interview with Ag Fight, the Brazilian striker explained his mysterious post.

According to Barboza, he wanted to bounce right back from his split decision loss to Paul Felder, back in September 2019. Since he suffered no injuries in the fight, Edson did not want to wait around for too long until his next match. He claims the UFC would not give him another pairing for months, which led to his desire to be released from his contract.

“My relationship with the UFC was always great. I never had any problems with them, it’s quite the opposite, actually. I’ve been working for the UFC for almost 10 years now. I’m very grateful for everything, but I asked them to fight in December. I fought Felder, I didn’t get hurt. I told Alex (Davis, Barboza’s manager), ‘Alex, please, ask them for a fight in December’. But December came and went, then January, February, March and they wouldn’t give me a fight. Imagine that. I was training hard, wanting to fight, and wouldn’t get a fight.”

“I don’t know if I wanted to leave the UFC.” Edson continued. “I just wanted to fight. Like I said, if they were not going to give me a fight, they might as well could have let me go look for work elsewhere. I need to fight, that’s what I do, what I love, it’s how I provide for my family. It was a bit of that, of just wanting to work. The problem is that after they came up with the ranking system, people started fighting less. I like to fight as much as possible, though. Two or three fights a year is too little for me. I always want to work more.”

Now that he decided to stay in the Octagon, Edson looked for a different kind of motivation by dropping to the featherweight for his next fight. Already scheduled to take on Dan Ige, Barboza believes the timing is right for the change, after almost 10 years of fighting in the UFC’s lightweight division.

“I have 22 UFC fights and am about to complete 10 years with them. So it was getting kind of boring for me. I had fought most guys at lightweight and if you look at my last fights, it was always against guys behind me in the ranking. I needed a different kind of motivation, some extra motivation. Not that I couldn’t motivate myself to keep fighting, of course not, I love what I do. However, I needed something different. One day I was talking to my friends and my brother-in-law, I said: ‘Why not?’. I talked to my coaches and they said the same: ‘Why not? Let’s give it a try’. So I decided to drop down.”

With just one win in his last five outings, the timing seems right for Edson Barboza (20-8) to begin a new chapter. After losing back-to-back bouts to both Khabib Nurmagomedov and Kevin Lee, the 34-year-old scored a TKO win against Dan Hooker, back in December 2018. However, he would then go on to lose his next two outings, too, to Justin Gaethje and Paul Felder.

Now, Barboza is scheduled to take on Ige at UFC on ESPN 10, in Jacksonville, Florida, on May 16. The card is expected to be headlined by a heayweight bout between contenders Alistair Overeem and Walt Harris.