Edson Barboza may have been utterly dominated by Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 209 but that hasn’t stopped him from denying him his no-1 lightweight status.
We’ve seen Edson Barboza lose out in the UFC before. We’ve seen him knocked out, submitted and on the wrong side of a decision but I think it’s fair to say that we had never once seen him dominated in the manner that he was at UFC 209 at the hands of Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Sure, his toughness and durability were commended, and rightfully so, but skills-wise there was a clear advantage for the Russian, and advantage he has been able to make very clear to absolutely everyone he has faced in pro-competition up until this point.
Against Al Iaquinta at this month’s UFC 223, he managed to finally take home the UFC’s lightweight belt but in a recent interview given to MMAWeekly, Edson Barboza put forth his belief that it is difficult to call Nurmagomedov the best at 155lbs right now.
“It’s tough to say who is the best. Sometimes the guy who’s the best isn’t the guy who wins that night and he loses. It’s so hard for me to say one guy is the best. I feel like if you see the top five guys in the UFC, you rank the top five guys, all those guys their level is so high.
“The level is so high, I believe Khabib could lose to anybody in the top 10 in the lightweight division. It’s so hard to say this guy’s the best or this guy is the worst. The guys in the top 10 of the UFC, their level is so high, so it’s all very close.
“I was very upset about the fight. I was so mad because I was completely dominated by Khabib. Sometimes something happens and it’s not too good.
“Right now, I’m back to the gym, I’m fixing some stuff and I promise and I guarantee that’s not going to happen again. I work very, very hard, I feel better than ever. I’m more excited than ever because of that loss.”
Barboza has the opportunity to get his lightweight title ambitions back on track when he faces Kevin Lee this weekend at UFC Atlantic City but in all honesty, even if he is victorious, he’ll have to do something truly phenomenal to get fans interested in a rematch with Nurmagomedov because frankly, the first time out it wasn’t even close.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena