Edson Barboza accepts UFC 219 fight vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov: 'It's on him now'

As UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor continues to plot his next move – be it a return to MMA or a boxing match with Paulie Malignaggi – things at the top of the division continue to fall into place.

Tony Ferguson won the interim title earlier this month after submitting Kevin Lee at UFC 216. Eddie Alvarez and Justin Gaethje, ranked Nos. 4 and 5, respectively, in the official UFC rankings, are set to square off Dec. 2 at UFC 218.

And now it appears another booking of top contenders could be close.

On Tuesday, Edson Barboza said during an Instagram Live stream that he’s accepted an offer from the UFC to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov on Dec. 30 at UFC 219 in Las Vegas. The onus, Barboza says, is now on “The Eagle.”

“They offered me this fight, and I accepted it,” Barboza said, via MMAFighting.com. “I said I’ll be ready for December 30th, and it’s on him now. We’ll see what he does. I saw an interview with him yesterday, and he said he’ll fight me if Conor fights Ferguson, and (UFC President) Dana (White) already said that fight will happen, so I believe my next fight will be against Khabib.”

Barboza (19-4 MMA, 13-4 UFC), now recovered from shoulder surgery, told MMAjunkie earlier this month that a fight with Nurmagomedov (24-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) makes sense, all things considered. Barboza has won three straight, most recently scoring a flying-knee knockout of Beneil Dariush in March at UFC Fight Night 106. He’s been adamant in his belief that McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) isn’t a real champion. McGregor, who lost an August boxing match to Floyd Mayweather via TKO, hasn’t defended his title since winning it from Alvarez last November at UFC 205.

Nurmagomedov said in September he expected to fight the Ferguson-Lee winner. Ferguson, naturally, prefers a title-unification bout with McGregor.

While Barboza said he’d also be content with a shot at Ferguson’s interim title, it appears he’s got his sights set on the undefeated Nurmagomedov and will be satisfied if the fight is made official.

“He’s definitely one of the best in the division,” Barboza told MMAjunkie. “I think this fight really makes sense for me. I’m ready. If the UFC books this fight, I’m ready.”

For more on UFC 219, visit the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Beneil Dariush thought he had done enough to beat Evan Dunham at UFC 216

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LAS VEGAS – Beneil Dariush was hoping a big win at UFC 216 would help erase at least some of the memory of his most recent prior fight.

Instead, the lightweight found himself in classic kiss-your-sister territory thanks to a majority draw. Dariush (14-3-1 MMA, 8-3-1 UFC) and Evan Dunham (18-6-1 MMA, 11-6-1 UFC) settled for a draw to open up the main card on pay-per-view at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

“I felt like I won the fight,” Dariush told MMAjunkie afterward. “I felt like I was in control of the whole fight. The second round, I felt like I outlanded him with kicks. He had the takedown, but didn’t do any damage. … I’m just a little confused and hoping I’ll just get up and do this again.

“It was a good fight overall. Evan’s super tough, and he did a good job. I really felt like I had that. To say I lost the last two rounds is a tough pill for me to swallow, but I’ll respect the judges and go from there.”

Dariush had a big first round against Dunham and nearly finished him away. That led to a 10-8 frame from two of the judges. But because those same two judges gave Dunham the second and third rounds, much to Dariush’s chagrin, it turned the fight into a draw. (Dariush got the nod from the third judge.)

Dariush said if it’s a rematch his bosses want to see, he’ll do it. Or he’ll wait for whoever wants to call him out to take care of the matchmaking for him and the UFC.

“If the UFC puts that in front of me, I’ll take that. … I’ll step up to the plate no matter who calls me out,” he said. “There’s no animosity between Evan and I. It was a good fight, and that’s it.”

But what Dariush really was hoping for was a victory to help take some of the sting out of a knockout loss to Edson Barboza in March down in Brazil. Barboza took him out with a flying knee.

Dariush said a win over Dunham wouldn’t have handled that in full, though. So maybe that’s the fight he’s looking for next instead of thinking about running it back with Dunham.

“The Barboza fight is not something I’m looking to just get rid of (and) put away,” Dariush said. “I’m as disappointed as you can get with that fight. I’d like to keep that with me until I get to see Barboza again.”

For more from Dariush, check out the video above.

And for complete coverage of UFC 216, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Recovered from shoulder surgery, Edson Barboza wants a fight – but not just any fight

Considering Edson Barboza has had his sights set on an interim title shot for a while, one could certainly understand if watching UFC 216’s headliner is upsetting to him.

As it turns out, it’s not. In fact, Barboza (19-4 MMA, 13-4 UFC), who’s been vocally opposed to champ Conor McGregor’s (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) inactive reign since claiming the 155-pound crown, is glad to see the division moving along.

And though it’s Tony Ferguson (22-3 MMA, 12-1 UFC) and Kevin Lee (16-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) who are fighting for interim honors Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Barboza thinks he’s not too far from his own taste of gold.

“I know I’m close to the title shot,” Barboza told MMAjunkie. “I know I will get my chance.”

Not that Barboza didn’t try to get the interim title shot. In fact, coming off a huge TKO win over Beneil Dariush, Barboza said he tried to convince UFC President Dana White and matchmaker Sean Shelby to have him meet Ferguson for a stab at the interim belt.

The fight would have served as a rematch for a “Fight of the Night” encounter in late 2015 at The Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale, which saw Barboza being submitted after stepping in on short notice. But UFC officials didn’t go for it.

The reason, however, wasn’t that Barboza hadn’t earned it – but rather because they knew he was dealing with a seriously injured shoulder that needed medical attention. Considering Barboza went on to have surgery, that was probably the right call. Still, he not only wanted to move forward with it. He was quite confident, too.

“I know if I fought him with a bad shoulder, I’d win the fight,” Barboza said.

Sounds a bit crazy, but it’s not like Barboza hasn’t fought while hurt before. He went into his most recent scrap with the same injury – or rather, four different injuries on the same shoulder – that kept him from both the Ferguson encounter and a talked-about meeting with Justin Gaethje.

At UFC Fight Night 106, Barboza overcame a tough first round to finish Dariush with a knee in the second. But the “Performance of the Night” win looks all the more impressive knowing what the Brazilian lightweight went through prior to it.

“A couple of weeks before, I started feeling my neck a little bit, going down to my left shoulder,” Barboza recalled. “I still worked hard. I was sparring with my training partner. He shot, I defended a takedown, and I heard my shoulder kept, ‘Pop, pop, pop.’ Crazy, crazy pops.

“I have the video. I ran to my head coach, said, ‘Mark, my shoulder popped.’ He said, ‘OK, you want to stop?’ I said, ‘No, let’s finish the round.’ I did three more rounds with the one arm.’”

On the way home, Barboza started really feeling the effects of what turned out to be a tore bicep tendon and a broken piece of bone – among other things. For two weeks, he says, he didn’t punch or lift weights. He even considered, at first, pulling out of the fight.

“But I’m a fighter, man,” Barboza said. “I love to fight. I try everything to fight.”

The decision paid off in the end, with Barboza adding a third win to a streak that features only respectable names like ex-champ Anthony Pettis and former Strikeforce titleholder Gilbert Melendez. But it also served as a huge test of Barboza’s grit.

“The first jab I threw, I said, ‘Man, that’s going to be a hard night,’” Barboza said. “Because it was so painful. The game plan (was) to throw a lot of the front hand, moving to my left side. And I couldn’t throw my left hand.

“That was the hardest fight of my career. Because I fought with one hand, very, very hard. And, like I said, Beneil is very tough. He gave me a hard time.”

After having surgery in Florida, Barboza says, he took six weeks off. Then, he started working “harder than ever” in physical therapy every day. The result was a recovery so swift that even his doctor marveled at it. Now, weeks after getting back to hard training, Barboza says he’s 100 percent pain-free and ready to go.

He’s even been calling his manager every day to get a fight. Not just any fight, though.

Edson Barboza

“I’m a fighter. I want to fight,” Barboza said. “But I’m not stupid. I want to fight somebody that really makes sense right now, get us a fight that put us closer to a title shot. Or on our way to get my chance to the title shot.

“Because I’m ready for this. I think I deserve it. I’ve been in the UFC for a long time. And I’m closer than ever to a title shot. I’m ready.”

Of course, Barboza is in the unfortunate position of being a UFC lightweight at a weird time. First, many wondered whether McGregor would ever return to MMA after his boxing match with Floyd Mayweather. And now, even if he comes back, there’s a chance McGregor won’t fight the division’s interim champ – but engage on a lucrative trilogy with Nate Diaz instead.

While Barboza can’t predict what will happen next, he knows one thing: After taking on two high-risk fights that ultimately did nothing to advance him in the rankings, he wants someone ahead of him.

“My last two fights, I fought somebody behind me in the rankings,” Barboza said. “Very risky fights, very dangerous guys. But I was there fighting. I don’t care. I’ve improved all the time. I have almost 20 fights in the UFC. A couple of weeks ago, I saw the rankings. I fought seven guys in the top-15.

“I fought everybody. I think I deserve it. I really deserve to fight the No. 1 contender, or somebody in front of me. Or a title shot.”

Considering Barboza is currently ranked No. 4 in the official UFC rankings – and No. 6 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA lightweight rankings – that doesn’t leave him too many options. Mairbek Taisumov. for instance, might just have to wait.

However, there is one man who not only fits the bill in both rankings, but doesn’t have a fight scheduled: undefeated, perennial contender Khabib Nurmagomedov (24-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC).

Some might see the Dagestani’s notoriously stifling wrestling game as a hazard to Barboza’s mostly striking-based movement. But the Brazilian, who’s quite into the matchup, isn’t fazed.

“He’s definitely one of the best in the division,” Barboza said. “I think this fight really makes sense for me. I’m ready. If the UFC books this fight, I’m ready.”

Of course, Barboza’s future also hinges on what happens with Saturday’s headliner. Although Nurmagomedov’s name is the one that most would point to as the next contender, the fact he’s been somewhat M.I.A. and even turned down a UFC 217 meeting with Ferguson could work in Barboza’s favor. Then there’s the chance McGregor fights Diaz.

Barboza is clear about wanting a title shot. But considering he doesn’t really see McGregor as the champion, he would have no problems meeting the division’s interim titleholder instead.

“That would be perfect,” Barboza said. “Like I said, if the UFC asks me to fight for the belt, for the real championship, I’d prefer to fight one of those guys. Because, like I said, McGregor for me is not the champion. He has the belt, but he’s not really the champ.”

If he does get his wish, and the interim champion is indeed next for him, Barboza believes that might just end up being a rematch.

“It’s going to be a fun fight,” Barboza said. “I think Tony Ferguson is going to win this fight. It’s hard to say that (Kevin Lee) doesn’t deserve it. He’s a great fighter, but he won just a couple of fights. Just his last fight, against (Michael) Chiesa, who’s a tough guy. But he fought nobody.

“I think Tony Ferguson is going to dominate this fight.”

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

The MMA Road Show with John Morgan No. 132 – Las Vegas: UFC 216 preview with Samano and Barboza, featuring Ferguson and Lee

Episode No. 132 of “The MMA Road Show with John Morgan” podcast is now available for streaming and download.

MMAjunkie lead staff reporter John Morgan hosts the show while traveling the world to cover the sport.

Cold Coffee is off to Spain, but not before he sits down with John Morgan and MMAjunkie’s Simon Samano to preview UFC 216, as well as discuss the vibe in Las Vegas following a tragic weekend. Along the way, hear Morgan’s interview with Edson Barboza, as well as the media day talks with Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee.

Listen below, or check it out on iTunes or at themmaroadshow.com. You can also subscribe via RSS.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Yo, Edson Barboza – Mairbek Taisumov wants to know if you wanna fight

Figure out a possible opponent, direct a tweet at that fighter, tag some media members, and then sit back and hope for the best? That seems to be Mairbek Taisumov’s plan.

And Taisumov (27-5 MMA, 6-1 UFC), who’s won five straight bouts while picking up three consecutive knockouts and “Performance of the Night” bonuses, hopes it leads to a bout with Edson Barboza (19-4 MMA, 13-4 UFC), who’s No. 6 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA lightweight rankings.

Here’s his respectful callout – which follows a seemingly failed but humorous callout of Nate Diaz and other top 155-pounders – where he explains that it’s a potential fight that fans want to see (via Twitter):

Taisumov isn’t currently ranked in our rankings, though he’s No. 15 on the official UFC list, where Barboza is No. 4.

A fight with Barboza, who recently scored a flying-knee knockout of Beneil Dariush for his third consecutive victory, could certainly get Taisumov some rankings consideration. The 31-year-old Brazilian, though, seems focused on other potential opponents, including Tony Ferguson and reigning champion Conor McGregor.

However, if Taisumov, a 29-year-old Chechen fighter, and Barboza did meet in the octagon, fans could probably expect fireworks. In 46 combined career wins, they’ve tallied 27 knockouts. Additionally, they’re both frequently fight-night bonus winners.

Is it a fight you want to see?

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For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Kevin Lee doesn't worry about UFC rankings, because 'they don't mean sh*t'

Khabib Nurmagomedov, Tony Ferguson, Eddie Alvarez, Edson Barboza, Justin Gaethje, and Nate Diaz – in that order.

Those are the six fighters ahead of Kevin Lee in the official UFC lightweight rankings, and he’s fought none of them. In fact, Lee holds a victory over just one current fighter in the top 10, Michael Chiesa, who he defeated via controversial submission in June.

With that, No. 7 Lee (16-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) has been granted an interim lightweight title shot against No. 2 Ferguson (22-3 MMA, 12-1 UFC) in the main event of UFC 216, which takes place Oct. 7 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

The fact that Lee has “beaten nobody” is a point Ferguson continues to harp on as their fight draws near. To Ferguson, Lee has talked his way into this shot at a belt, which Lee counters that he’s done more than talk, with 11 fights since his UFC debut 3 1/2 years ago.

And besides, Lee doesn’t see the big deal with rankings anyway.

“It don’t really matter,” Lee said during Thursday’s UFC 216 conference call. “Like, I don’t see even why other fighters are putting … them rankings, they don’t matter. Y’all make the rankings. I don’t give a f*ck about the rankings. The only thing everybody above me in this division got on me is some years, is some time. That’s it.”

Taking a look at the rankings, the current landscape of the division is intriguing. It appears McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) likely will forego a unification bout with the Ferguson-Lee winner in favor of a trilogy with Diaz (19-11 MMA, 14-9 UFC). Alvarez and Gaethje are slated to culminate their time as opposing coaches on “The Ultimate Fighter 26” with a showdown. And Nurmagomedov (24-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) is in limbo, though he’s said he expects to fight either Ferguson or Lee.

None of that matters to Lee, though. He’s already proclaimed himself UFC champ over McGregor, who is coming off his boxing loss to Floyd Mayweather and hasn’t defended his belt – even without a “hunk of metal.” That should’ve already relayed Ferguson’s beliefs on the rankings.

But just in case it didn’t …

“When you look at the rankings, they don’t mean nothing,” Lee said. “Some of these dudes that’s in the top 25, top 30, they’ll beat any of the guys in the top five. They got Nate Diaz, who’s got plenty of losses, in the top five. It don’t make sense. They got Justin Gaethje, who only got one (UFC) fight against … apparently beating Michael Johnson in this game is really something, because you got Khabib up there at No. 1, and you got Gaethje with one fight up above me.

“The rankings don’t really mean shit. You could say I’m No. 7. You could say whatever you want to say. I think I’m No. 1, and I’m just going to prove it on October 7th.”

For more on UFC 216, visit the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Edson Barboza: Conor McGregor 'thinking about another sport,' so why doesn't UFC strip title?

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The UFC lightweight division is loaded with possible title contenders. And yet, it remains on hold as champion Conor McGregor prepares for his boxing match with Floyd Mayweather later this summer.

McGregor  (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) won the belt from Eddie Alvarez last November at UFC 205 and hasn’t defended it since. By the time he does – if he does – it likely will have been more than a year since McGregor competed in MMA.

That doesn’t sit well with Edson Barboza (19-4 MMA, 13-4 UFC), who explained why in an appearance on the “Fight Society” podcast.

“Conor stays out for a long time. I don’t think he worries about the UFC, don’t worry about the division. He (doesn’t) respect us, and the UFC don’t get his belt,” said Barboza, who is No. 5 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA lightweight rankings. “I really don’t understand why the UFC got the belt from (Germaine de Randamie) and why the UFC (doesn’t) get the belt from Conor? Take the belt (from) Conor. I really don’t understand. I think this belt in the UFC, Conor’s not a real champ.”

Of course, “Conor’s not a real champ” won’t go over well with his ardent supporters, especially when you consider how soundly he finished Alvarez for the title. But Barboza’s statement seems to be based not so much on results as it is on attitude.

“This guy is thinking about boxing; he’s thinking about another sport,” Barboza said. “He don’t think about the UFC. He don’t think about the division. That’s my job; that’s my work. I’m in the UFC to get the belt. I’m in the UFC to be the champ. I know I deserve the chance. This guy, because of him, our division is stuck. That’s not good. This guy doesn’t respect nobody. He doesn’t respect the UFC, and he’s still champ. That’s crazy.”

Certainly you could understand Barboza’s frustration, which is likely to be shared by fellow top contenders Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson, and others in the division. The situation is what it is, though, and the fact remains we likely won’t have clarity on the future of the division until after McGregor-Mayweather.

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, visit the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Sean Shelby's Shoes: What's next for Kevin Lee and UFC Fight Night 112's other winning fighters?

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The UFC made its second stop in Oklahoma City, Okla., on Sunday with UFC Fight Night 112, which took place at Chesapeake Energy Arena. The FS1-televised main card featured six fights, with half ending in a stoppage.

In the main event, Kevin Lee (16-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) continued to establish himself as threat in the UFC lightweight division when he picked up a first-round submission victory over Michael Chiesa (14-3 MMA, 7-3 UFC), albeit with some controversy involved.

Tim Boetsch (21-11 MMA, 12-10 UFC) added another memorable win to his lengthy UFC career in the co-headliner, beating ex-UFC champ Johny Hendricks (18-7 MMA, 13-7 UFC). Other winners included Felice Herrig (13-6 MMA, 4-1 UFC), Dominick Reyes (7-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC), Tim Means (27-8-1 MMA, 9-5 UFC) and Dennis Siver (23-11 MMA, 12-8 UFC).

After every event, fans wonder whom the winners will be matched up with next. And with another night of UFC action in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look forward, put on a pair of Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard’s shoes, and play UFC matchmaker for UFC Fight Night 112’s winning fighters.

* * * *

Dennis Siver

Dooho Choi

Should fight: Dooho Choi
Why they should fight: After a more than two-year hiatus, Siver made a triumphant return to the octagon and earned arguably the signature win of his career by beating UFC Hall of Famer B.J. Penn.

Although it seems Penn is far past his expiration date, his name still carries weight in the sport. Siver’s majority-decision win over the former UFC champ is a memory he can cherish, even if it doesn’t do much for him in terms of advancing his place in the featherweight division.

At 38, Siver has admitted his time in the sport is limited. He’s coming off a big high, though, and if he can keep that momentum, things could get interesting for him again. Siver is a cagey veteran, but Choi (14-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) is a heavily hyped prospect.

“The Korean Superboy” had to recently pull out of a fight due to injury following his “Fight of the Year” clash with Cub Swanson in December, but if he can get healthy, Siver would be a good test and a matchup with big excitement potential.

Tim Means

Bryan Barberena

Should fight: Bryan Barberena
Why they should fight: Means was unable to put on another dazzling display of violence inside the octagon, but he did manage to rebound from a two-fight winless skid with a smartly fought unanimous-decision victory over Alex Garcia.

It’s almost impossible to put “The Dirty Bird” into a truly boring fight, and while he would need a dramatic career shift to be considered a title contender, he’s a reliable member of the welterweight division.

Many fighters have similar reputations at 170 pounds, and Barberena (13-4 MMA, 3-2 UFC) is one. Although the fight wouldn’t have much stakes in terms of rankings relevance, it’s a matchup that both fighters would likely embrace, and it could make for a fan-pleasing affair.

Dominick Reyes

Jeremy Kimball

Should fight: Jeremy Kimball
Why they should fight: Fighting in an FS1-televised bout on short notice in his UFC debut, Reyes overcame a challenging situation when he defeated Joachim Christensen by TKO in just 29 seconds.

Reyes showed the UFC made a wise choice by giving him an opportunity, and he scored a solid win against a far more experience opponent on the biggest stage of his career.

Still young in his career, “The Devastator” is a promising addition to the suddenly flourishing light heavyweight division. Kimball (15-6 MMA, 1-1 UFC) is in a similar position after scoring a first-round TKO of Josh Stansbury during the early prelims, and matching up two fighters looking to make a name at 205 pounds is a logical decision.

Felice Herrig

Michelle Waterson

Should fight: Michelle Waterson
Why they should fight: Herrig continued to show her lone UFC defeat against Paige VanZant was not indicative of her overall ability when she pushed her strawweight winning streak to three against by beating Justine Kish.

Herrig picked up a unanimous-decision win, marking her third straight triumph over a prospect at 115 pounds. She won’t allow an up-and-comer to make her name off her veteran status, and in every fight, she solidifies the idea she’s a contender worth paying attention to.

“Lil’ Bulldog” is deserving of a noteworthy fight that will help move her up the rankings, and Waterson (14-5 MMA, 2-1 UFC) fits the description. Herrig called for a fight with “The Karate Hottie” following her win over Alex Grasso at UFC Fight Night 104 in February, and with Waterson coming off a loss to No. 1 contender Rose Namajunas, a bout with Herrig would provide an opportunity to rebound.

Tim Boetsch

David Branch

Should fight: David Branch
Why they should fight: Boetsch has had a knack for playing spoiler throughout his UFC career. He did it again when he derailed the middleweight revival of Oklahoma’s own Johny Hendricks.

Boetsch handed the former UFC welterweight champion his first loss at 185 pounds with a second-round TKO in what was his 22nd UFC appearance. “The Barbarian” had had an up-and-down run inside the octagon, but every so often he shows what he’s capable of against a big-name foe.

Consistency has been the grinder’s biggest problem, and while the win over Hendricks was significant, the 36-year-old has to prove it’s not too late to make a run.

Boetsch has won three of his past four bouts, though, and he’s earned another chance to break into the 185-pound rankings. Branch (21-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC), who’s riding a 12-fight winning streak, holds the No. 7 spot in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA middleweight rankings, and it’d be interesting to see how Boetsch’s style would clash with the former two-division WSOF champion.

Kevin Lee

Should fight: Edson Barboza
Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Lee should fight Barboza (19-4 MMA, 13-4 UFC) next.

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 112, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie