Edson Barboza’s past several interviews with MMA Junkie centered around his displeasure with his contract situation. Going into his UFC 262 fight with Shane Burgos this month, though, his demeanor has completely changed.
That’s because Barboza (21-9 MMA, 15-9 UFC) is happy and in good standing with the UFC, rather than frustrated and disgruntled. After beating Makwan Amirkhani at UFC on ESPN+ 37 in October, Barboza had just one fight remaining on his UFC contract and was bothered by the slowness of getting his final bout booked, as well as the lack of fruitful renewal talks.
By February, Barboza was ready to part ways with the UFC. His irritation was mounting, and he would’ve gladly taken a release to test free agency. But then his situation took a turn in the right direction.
Barboza got a new six-fight UFC contract that came with the raise he was looking for after being an octagon mainstay and consistent entertainer for more than 10 years. A style-friendly matchup with Burgos (13-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) came along with it, too, and Barboza enters UFC 262 completely satisfied with his situation.
“I’m 100 percent happy,” Barboza told MMA Junkie. “The new contract proves that they enjoy my work. They gave me the number that I want, and I’m very happy with that. I was very motivated to get a bump (in pay), and now I know the UFC enjoys my hard work. They make me very happy.”
Barboza did not reveal the exact financial figures of the deal. His most recent disclosed salary was $79,000 for a loss to Dan Ige at UFC on ESPN 8 in May 2020.
At 35, this six-fight contract could bring Barboza to the end of his career, as he’d likely be 38 years old by the time he fulfills all of his fights. The Brazilian thinks he’ll have more in him, though, and still thinks the best moments of his career are to come.
His UFC 262 matchup with Burgos, which takes place at the Toyota Center in Houston and airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and ESPN+, is a moment where Barboza thinks he can thrive.
“I was happy with this fight because he’s one of the best,” Barboza said. “It’s going to be a big war. He’s a great striker; he’s a great fighter. He’s one of the best, and the UFC always gives me the chance to fight against the best guys in the company at 155, and now they give me the chance to fight the best at 145. I really expect a war. If I have the chance to finish the fight, I will for sure. But my mind is ready for 15 minutes of war.”
Barboza spent the first 22 fights of his UFC career at lightweight, but he’s spent his past two competing at featherweight. He said he truly views this as the division where his skillset can shine the brightest, and if he can get past a very tough opponent in Burgos, he said the path toward that elusive UFC title shot will start to open up.
“If I win this fight hopefully the UFC gives me a top 5 opponent,” Barboza said. “I dropped to 145 to be the champ and I know I have everything to be the champ. It’s not just to fight the fights on this contract. No, I’m here to be the champ and that’s what I’m going to do.”
This was originally published on www.mmajunkie.com