Here's the official poster for UFC 219, featuring Cris Cyborg and Holly Holm

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Filed under: Blue Corner, Featured Videos, News, UFC

The UFC’s final pay-per-view of the year, UFC 219, is less than a month away. Now it has an official poster.

The event, which takes place Dec. 30 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, features a pay-per-view main card following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

One of the biggest fights in women’s MMA history takes center stage in the main event when UFC featherweight champion Cris Cyborg (19-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) attempts to continue her more than decade-long run of dominance. She takes on former UFC bantamweight champion Holly Holm (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC), who is looking to pull off another historic upset win.

The current co-headliner pits unbeaten lightweight contender Khabib Nurmagomedov (24-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) against highlight-reel knockout specialist Edson Barboza (19-4 MMA, 13-4 UFC).

Check out the official event poster below (via Twitter):

The latest UFC 219 lineup includes:

  • Champ Cris Cyborg vs. Holly Holm – for women’s featherweight title
  • Edson Barboza vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov
  • John Lineker vs. Jimmie Rivera
  • Cynthia Calvillo vs. Carla Esparza
  • Carlos Condit vs. Neil Magny
  • Marc Diakiese vs. Dan Hooker
  • Emil Meek vs. Kamaru Usman
  • Matheus Nicolau vs. Louis Smolka
  • Rick Glenn vs. Myles Jury
  • Omari Akhmedov vs. Marvin Vettori
  • Michal Oleksiejczuk vs. Khalil Rountree
  • Abdul Razak Alhassan vs. Sabah Homasi

For more on UFC 219, visit 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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Filed under: Blue Corner, Featured Videos, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC 219's Edson Barboza on the downside of being famous for a wheel kick

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Filed under: News, Radio Highlight, UFC, Videos

A wheel kick made UFC lightweight Edson Barboza famous around the world, but it’s not his favorite finish.

“In kickboxing, I have crazy knockouts,” Barboza (19-4 MMA, 13-4), who next faces Khabib Nurmagomedov (24-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) at UFC 219, told MMAjunkie Radio. “You guys have no idea. I have a lot of knockouts. I think some knockouts are more important than the wheel kick.”

For a while, it was easy to look up those knockouts on YouTube. Then Barboza found out the downside of putting your most impressive moments on the internet.

“When I moved to the U.S., I started fighting in MMA, and everybody watched,” he said. “I was 2-0 or 3-0, and nobody wants to fight me, because everybody went on YouTube.

“People would watch my videos, and everybody pulled out (of fights). I told my friend, ‘Please, take all my YouTube videos down.’”

Now, those highlights are safely kept at Barboza’s home in Brazil, even though the secret about his skills is no secret to anyone in MMA.

One finish sticks out to Barboza even more than the kick that made him a viral sensation and ESPY nominee. He can’t remember the competitor’s name – only the devastation his work produced.

“I remember that day as very important for me, because I came from my first professional loss in kickboxing,” he said. “I really knocked the guy out. He was almost dead. It’s very fresh in my mind.”

At UFC 219, which takes place Dec. 30 at T-Mobile Arena, Barboza will make his 18th appearance in the octagon in a pay-per-view bout against Nurmagomedov, whose undefeated record and grappling excellence make him the favorite to win. A recent history of withdrawing from high-profile fights also has many questioning whether he’ll show up, but Barboza isn’t worried. He’s too busy.

“I have things to do,” he said. “I think about my training and what I’m doing. Every single day, I have my family and my friends in Brazil. I just think about myself, go in the gym, train hard every single day.

“I really don’t worry about what he does or what he has to do, or his record. I don’t focus on that. My focus is on Edson Barboza full time.”

Barboza, the No. 6 fighter in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA lightweight rankings, will try to add No. 4 Nurmagomedov to a long list of victims felled by his fists, kicks and knees. It might be his biggest UFC win to date. If he can pull it off, he’ll make his case for the next logical step in his career.

“I’ve fought with seven guys in the top 15, and definitely, I think if I win this fight, I really deserve the title shot,” he said. “I don’t care if it’s (undisputed UFC lightweight champ) Conor (McGregor) or (interim champ Tony) Ferguson. But I definitely deserve the title shot.”

For more on UFC 219, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

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Filed under: News, Radio Highlight, UFC, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

Stream or download MMAjunkie Radio #2570 with Edson Barboza, Paul Felder, Joe Soto

Stream or download Tuesday’s episode of MMAjunkie Radio with Edson Barboza, Paul Felder and Joe Soto.

Barboza discussed his upcoming matchup with Khabib Nurmagomedov, which takes place Dec. 30 at UFC 219. Felder, who fights Charles Oliveira on Dec. 2nd at UFC 218, talked about his fighting future, calling fights for the UFC and more. Soto, who faces Brett Johns on Dec. 1 at The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale, also called in to talk about his future.

You can listen below or stream the entire episode on AudioBoom.com.

Filed under: News, Radio, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Watch MMAjunkie Radio here (1 p.m. ET) with Edson Barboza, Paul Felder and Joe Soto

Filed under: News, UFC

MMAjunkie Radio kicks off today at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) with guests Edson Barboza, Paul Felder and Joe Soto.

Barboza fights Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 219 on Dec. 30, Felder meets Charles Oliveira at UFC 218 on Dec. 2, and Soto takes on Brett Johns at The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale on Dec. 1

MMAjunkie Radio airs from 1 to 3 p.m. ET (10 a.m. to noon PT), live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. You can watch and listen live on MMAjunkie’s Facebook and YouTube pages. Additionally, SiriusXM Rush (Ch. 93) carries a replay later in the day (8-10 p.m. ET) and the following morning (7-9 a.m. ET), or catch a replay on demand.

MMAjunkie Radio listener guide:

  • HOW TO WATCH (ON WEB): Watch a live stream on MMAjunkie’s Facebook or YouTube pages.
  • HOW TO CALL: MMAjunkie Radio takes phone calls from listeners throughout the show. Call into the MMAjunkie Radio hotline at (866) 522-2846.
  • HOW TO DISCUSS: The MMAjunkie MMA Forums has a section devoted solely to MMAjunkie Radio. Stop by the MMAjunkie Radio forum to discuss the show, interact with the hosts, suggest future guests and catch up on the latest MMAjunkie Radio news.
  • HOW TO VISIT THE SHOW: You can watch MMAjunkie Radio live and in person at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino on the world-famous Las Vegas Strip. The booth is located in the resort’s Race & Sports Book next to the Mandalay Bay poker room. To plan a trip to Sin City and MMAjunkie Radio, go to www.mandalaybay.com.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Edson Barboza hears your jokes about Nurmagomedov's injuries and McGregor's belt

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

SAO PAULO – Edson Barboza got his desired fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov. Then he got flooded with a whole lot of jokes about his UFC 219 opponent’s injury and ailment woes.

No worries, Barboza said. He expects the fight to go on as planned.

“Definitely not,” he told MMAjunkie when asked if he’s concerned about the fight falling apart. “I know injuries happen all the time. I think I’ve never fought 100 percent with my body in my life. Something always happens. Always, every fight I have some injuries, but they’re not too bad.

“It happens. … Maybe I can get hurt in camp. It happens with everybody.”

As he announced on Friday at fan Q&A prior to UFC Fight Night 119 weigh-ins, Barboza (19-4 MMA, 13-4) meets Nurmagomedov (24-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) at UFC 219. The year-end pay-per-view event takes place Dec. 30 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Nurmagomedov is No. 4 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA lightweight rankings, and Barboza is No. 6. So it very well could be a title-eliminator that propels the victor to a title shot.

That, of course, is assuming the fight stays intact. Nurmagomedov hasn’t fought since November 2016, when he defeated Michael Johnson at UFC 205. It’s one of just two fights he’s had since 2014 due to Nurmagomedov’s string of injuries, as well as a UFC 209 weight cut that cost him a fight with now-interim champ Tony Ferguson.

Is Barboza worried about his opponent’s track record of scratches?

“I’m not scared about this,” said Barboza, who’s also on the mend following a shoulder injury that’s kept him out of the cage since a flying-knee knockout of Beneil Dariush in March. ” … I always train very hard. For sure (Nurmagomedov) trains very hard, and sometimes it happens. I can’t do anything. If you don’t train, you can’t get hurt. But like me, I train hard all the time, and he trains hard.

“I hope (injuries don’t) happen with me and him.”

As for the Barboza vs. Nurmagomedov winner?

Barboza said it makes sense that the victor will get a title shot. But will it be against reigning champ Conor McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC), who recently had a blockbuster boxing bout with Floyd Mayweather and is considering other options such as a rubber match with Nate Diaz?

Or will it be against ever-busy interim titleholder Ferguson (24-3 MMA, 14-1 UFC), who recently defeated Kevin Lee for his 10th straight victory – all of which have taken place since late 2013?

“I just think about me,” Barboza said. “I don’t think about the other guys. Like I said, for me, in my opinion, Ferguson is the champ. Tony Ferguson is the true champ for the UFC lightweights.”

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

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Edson Barboza vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov set for UFC 219 in Las Vegas

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The year-end UFC 219 event has a new major addition.

Edson Barboza (19-4 MMA, 13-4 UFC) today announced he’s fighting fellow lightweight contender Khabib Nurmagomedov (24-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) at the event.

UFC officials subsequently made a formal announcement (via Twitter):

UFC 219 takes place Dec. 30 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass, though the full fight card and bout order haven’t been set.

Nurmagomedov is No. 4 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA lightweight rankings, and Barboza is No. 6.

“I have a big announcement for you guys: I will fight on Dec. 30, Las Vegas, against Khabib Nurmagomedov,” Barboza said today at a Q&A prior to today’s UFC Fight Night 119 ceremonial weigh-ins in Sao Paulo. “I know it’s going to be a big war. You guys know I love war, so definitely be ready for this, guys. I hope you guys don’t blink. This fight is going to be a big war. I’m ready for this.”

Barboza, a 31-year-old Brazilian, has been a longtime contender at 155 pounds, though he’s previously struggled in key bouts that cost him potential title shots. However, this will surely be another crucial opportunity for him thanks to his current three-fight winning streak, which includes a recent flying-knee knockout of Beneil Dariush in March.

Barboza, who’s now recovered from a shoulder injury, recently called for a fight with Nurmagomedov – likely knowing a victory could earn him his long-awaited first UFC title shot.

Barboza, though, has to hope the often-injured Nurmagomedov stays healthy enough to get to the fight, where the 29-year-old Russian looks for his ninth straight UFC victory and 25th consecutive win overall.

Nurmagomedov, a dangerous wrestler and sambo champion, hasn’t fought since November 2016, when he scored a submission victory over Michael Johnson at UFC 205. It’s one of just two fights since 2014 due to Nurmagomedov’s string of injuries, as well as a UFC 209 weight cut that went awry.

Assuming Nurmagomedov stays healthy and makes it to UFC 219, striker Barboza doesn’t expect ground specialist Nurmagomedov to present any issues on the mat – assuming he can get the bout there.

“It’s no secret (Nurmagomedov is a ground specialist),” Barboza told a fan at today’s Q&A. “Everyone knows my game. For them to see my jiu-jitsu, they have to take me down. Let’s see if he’ll succeed.”

The latest UFC 219 card includes:

  • Edson Barboza vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov
  • Dominick Cruz vs. Jimmie Rivera
  • Cynthia Calvillo vs. Carla Esparza
  • Matheus Nicolau vs. Louis Smolka
  • Carlos Condit vs. Neil Magny
  • Khalil Rountree vs. Gokhan Saki
  • Rick Glenn vs. Myles Jury
  • Emil Meek vs. Kamaru Usman
  • Marc Diakiese vs. Dan Hooker

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

Filed under: Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Mairbek Taisumov uses Donald Trump-inspired cartoon on Twitter to call out top UFC lightweights

With five finishes in a row, UFC lightweight Mairbek Taisumov is raring to fight somebody in the top 10.

Taisumov made that very clear with his epic callout of the division following his one-punch knockout of Felipe Silva at UFC Fight Night 115 last month, pointing out specific fighters who have dodged him. One thing standing in Taisumov’s way of top competition is issues with his visa, which has prevented him from fighting in the U.S. That naturally limits Taisumov’s opportunity to land a big-name opponent.

And so, with that in mind, take a look at this incredible Donald Trump-inspired cartoon Taisumov (26-5 MMA, 6-1 UFC) shared today on Twitter:

That, my friends, is just … 

via GIPHY

Politically charged MMA trash talk. Who knew!

For the record, if you’re wondering who that is in the cartoon, this how I see it:

The only issue, of course, is that McGregor and Barboza are included, which doesn’t jive with the “their own president” remark in the tweet since they aren’t American.

Doesn’t matter, though. This is still perfect.

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, visit 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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Filed under: Blue Corner, Featured, Featured Videos, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

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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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

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

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Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

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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Filed under: News, UFC, Videos
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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