Edson Barboza Jr., deemed the best kicker in the UFC 155 pound division by Joe Rogan, has been likened to a fighting video game character, whose offensive capabilities have been maxed out. From his brutal inside leg kicks, to his thunderous spinning back kicks, there is naught but danger stored in those two legs of his. With the recent developments of his boxing under the tutelage of MMA striking coach Mark Henry, it seems that Barboza is on his way to becoming the most terrifying knockout artist in the sport.
Praised for his devastating kicks, Edson has never been one to get lazy on his opponent’s legs. A former Muay Thai Champion, he has consistently shown time and time again what makes him stand out from the other 155ers in the UFC. Displaying a brutal explosiveness matched by no other in the division, Barboza has the ability to finish any of his opponents in a striking battle, and as his boxing skills better, he is becoming more and more of a threat on the feet, stringing together combinations like the one below more frequently.
Since his UFC debut against Mike Lullo, Barboza has shown with his phenomenal Takedown Defence and his ability to escape an opponents guard that he very much prefers to keep a fight standing. In his recent match against Beneil Dariush, he was able to perfectly time a flying knee to counter Dariush’s constant use of (Jab -> Takedown). After the third attempt, Barboza made the adjustment necessary to finish the fight in devastating fashion.
Edson’s timing has been something of a nightmare in his more recent fights, and paired with his boxing skills, he is able to unleash his full arsenal without worry from other dynamic strikers. For example, his use of the lead left hook to counter Anthony Pettis in his exchanges with the former champion at UFC 197 were something to behold, throwing the lead hook to the head, and at one point, reminiscent of our Dutch Muay Thai friends, going to the body with it then following with a right kick to the body.
As Edson continues terrorizing the lightweight division, questions arise as to how he might fare against the other top tier lightweights; Is his take-down defense good enough to stifle Khabibs masterful use of his combo sambo roots? Has he made the adjustments necessary to defeat Tony Ferguson in a potential rematch? Does he have the necessary footwork to dance with Conor? Below are some of the attributes that make Edson a man to be feared in his division, and weaknesses that his opponents may exploit in a match.
- Fight IQ and Timing – able to make tactical decisions with very limited time, Barboza’s adjustments and reaction speed have never been better. An example of his high fight IQ being his spectacular highlight reel KO of Terry Etim and obviously, the adjustments he made to finish Dariush mentioned above. In the leadup to the KO against Etim, Barboza launches a combination at him beginning with a straight right punch to the body, ending the combination with a leg kick. As Etim believes Barboza now wants to target the body, Edson begins a spinning move, and Etim lowers his arms ever so slightly to protect his body from any spinning kicks but is instead greeted with a spinning wheel kick to the chin. A true master at his craft.
See Etim lower his arms to protect his body in the slow-motion shot
- Explosiveness and Power – boasting KO power and endurance to be feared throughout an entire match, Edson’s power is nothing to scoff at. With spinning back kicks, spinning wheel kicks, and roundhouse kicks to the body, head, and legs, Barboza is able to severely punish his opponents for the slightest openings they give him. He is one of the few UFC fighters to finish a match via leg kicks, and is able to deliver them to the outside and inside as shown below with equal ferocity. As his boxing and footwork improve under Henry, there will soon be no safe way to fight Edson on the feet.
Edson Barboza badly damaged the inside of Anthony Pettis’ leg in their UFC match
- Chin – Remember when I mentioned that Barboza has been compared to a fighting video game character whose offensive capabilities were maxed out? Edson Barboza has been shown to have questionable chin, being dropped by a Jab from former lightweight Donald Cerrone as well as being hurt multiple times in the first round of his bout with Jamie Varner. It could be that Barboza may not have the resilience to stand with strikers such as Mcgregor, who capitalizes on every opening that is presented to him in the cage with piston like precision.