Edson Barboza is a fast rising, undefeated (8-0) UFC fighter, who has been dazzling fans with his striking prowess. The Rio de Janeiro, Brazil native has a background in Muay Thai, but is working hard on his ground game. He's gets to fight in his hometown at UFC Rio next month, and is very much looking forward to his homecoming.
"It's awesome to fight in my hometown," he said, "because I will able to see my family and friends and feel their energy. But when the cage is closed, it is the same show, the same rules and it's the same show just like anywhere else. So it doesn't matter for me where the show is, but it is important to me that I'm ready to fight. Of course it will be a great opportunity for me, but I'm focused on to preparing for the fight and not on what will happen in the fight. As I say the pressure is outside of the cage, because inside the cage is just enjoying my hard work."
Edson, who is coming off a win over Anthony Njokuani, in a bout that won Fight of the Night honors at UFC 128, is taking on TUF season 9 winner Ross Pearson. This could be Edson's toughest fight yet, and he's ready for it.
"I know that Ross Pearson is a good opponent and I'm working very hard for that fight," he said. "My camp is going great, I have no injuries, and I'm focused on my game and what I will do."
What he will do depends on what Pearson does, of course. Edson, known as a ferocious striker, is ready for all aspects of a mixed martial arts contest. Edson trains at the Armory with a host of big name coaches.
"I'm training striking with coach Ouali and my partners Luis Cane and Marlon Moraes," he said. "I've been training jiu-jitsu and grappling with big names like Eduardo Guedes, Rafael Chaves, Pablo Popovitch, Roberto Cyborg and Vagner "Ceara" Rocha, and also I'm training wrestling at Imperial Gym. I'm doing my strength and conditioning with Joe Mullings. So I'm working all of MMA points for that fight because I want to be able to work standing up and on the ground in this fight."
Edson fights in the UFC's lightweight division, which is arguably the most stacked of any weight class. But he feels he's ready to take on just about anyone.
"I know how competitive that the 155 division is," he said. "This makes me work even harder for my fights. It's hard to say who is the top on that division, because there are a lot of great fighters in the lightweight division. What I can say is this division is one of the toughest divisions in the UFC."
Edson is realistic about moving up in the rankings, due to the level of talent near the top. There's a bit of a log jam, because of injuries to LW champion Frankie Edgar and number 1 contender Gray Maynard, a development that has delayed their fight. Barboza does not let this situation distract him.
"I'm not worried about that right now," he said. "I just want to do a good job and keep working step by step to reach my earned space in the UFC. I have great partners and great coaches and I want to do a good job."
When asked if there's anyone in particular who he'd like to fight, Edson is non-committal.
"I don't have anyone in particular that I'd like to fight," he said. "I am a professional fighter and I fight whoever the UFC requests me to fight."
If Edson, whose full name is Edson Mendes Barboza Jr., continues his winning ways, he's going to find himself being asked to fight the UFC champion in the not so distant future.
Check out this killer highlight of Edson after the jump.