Edson Barboza breaks down UFC main event with Giga Chikadze
Edson Barboza is “very happy” to once again headline a UFC card and potentially get one step closer to a featherweight championship shot with a win over 145-pound Giga Chikadze at UFC Vegas 35 this Saturday.
Barboza has looked amazing at featherweight (currently ranked No. 9 in the MMA fighting world rankings), dominating Shane Burgos and Makwan Amirkhani since a controversial split decision loss to Dan Ige in his debut. Barboza hopes it will turn into a five-round war with Chikadze (No. 12), who is 6-0 in the UFC with a devastating 63-second knockout of veteran Cub Swanson.
“He is an excellent striker,” Barboza said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “Let’s see how good he is in the striking area. That’s the kind of opponent I like to fight, guys who really want to come and try to catch me [laughs]. I have no doubt that he is getting ahead, he will expose himself a lot and that will give me many opportunities. It’s going to be a good fight, bro. I’m sure we’re going to break down. ”
Barboza has faced a long list of dangerous forwards in more than a decade as a UFC fighter, but he hopes that “Ninja” Chikadze, a protégé of Rafael Cordeiro from Kings MMA, will decide to stand up against him.
“It’s funny that all the forwards I’ve fought before in the UFC tried to take me down,” Barboza said. “But it’s an MMA fight, right, bro? I know I have to be prepared in all areas because it is an MMA fight, but I hope he comes to fight. ”
The American Top Team product was called Max Holloway, Calvin Kattar, “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sun Jung, and Yair Rodriguez after their knockout over Burgos in May, but instead he was paired with Chikadze.
“We always want to face someone ranked ahead of us,” said Barboza. “But this fight definitely excites me because of his fighting style and the fact that the UFC has given me a spot in the main event. That makes the difference. Winning this fight will definitely propel me forward and bring me closer to my goal of becoming a featherweight champion. I’m very excited and I know it will be a great fight. ”
Barboza has topped the UFC charts before, falling short of Kevin Lee and Justin Gaethje in their lightweight days. However, the main event is more than just an additional 10 minutes of action.
“It’s definitely different than a three-round fight or a preliminary fight,” Barboza said. “It is different, but mainly the psychological part. I learned from those two main events that I had that it was more about my head. It’s not an excuse, but I think now I’m mentally stronger, better prepared for five rounds. ”
“The training is different because you have to do 10 more minutes of fighting,” he continued. “You see most people get tired of doing three rounds, imagine doing two more? The training is very hard, and that’s where the mental part comes in. It’s easier than I imagined now. ”
Barboza usually faces four rounds at a time when he’s booked for 15-minute bouts in the UFC, and he credits his mental trainer Lincoln Nunes for the way he has performed against Amirkhani and Burgos.
“It’s funny because when we’re doing a five-round fight we think ‘it’s just an extra round, you can do five rounds easily,'” Barboza said of his training sessions. “But when you’re booked for a five-round fight and you finish four rounds in the gym, you think ‘fuck, man, there’s still one more left.’ [Laughs] That’s when the mental part comes in. the body is ready for 10 rounds, easy, but the mind must come together. ”
No one has been able to beat Chikadze thus far in the UFC, with the former GLORY star winning four decisions and scoring two knockouts inside the Octagon.
With that said, Barboza predicts a great night for the American Top Team at UFC APEX.
“He is also a forward and we know the fight can end at any moment,” Barboza said. “I’m ready to fight 25 minutes, man. 25 minutes of war and beatings, but this fight will be over soon if you give me a chance. Winning this battle will push me into the top 5 and I might need one more fight [to earn a shot at him. qualification] “.