Fighter On Fighter: Breaking Down Barboza!

Brutal Muay Thai striker, Edson Barboza, will duel with fellow low kicking marauder, Justin Gaethje, this Saturday (March 30, 2019) at UFC on ESPN 2 from inside Wells Fargo Middle in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

It’s tough to reconcile simply how beatable Barboza can seem with simply how dominant Barboza will be. In 2018 alone, Barboza was made to look helpless by Kevin Lee and battered for almost 25 minutes straight, getting thrown down and smacked round a lot that it was tough to observe. Seven months later, he was on the fitting facet of some of the soul-crushing, leg-tearing, liver-busting performances of all time towards Dan Hooker, hammering a legitimately robust and proficient contender right into a lump of bruising.

With Barboza, it at all times appears to be one excessive or the opposite. Gaethje is arguably the identical means — he doesn’t lose in the identical type of extended beating that Barboza is susceptible to struggling, however Gaethje both destroys or implodes in dramatic vogue.

It’s going to be violent when each males are within the cage. Till then, let’s take a better have a look at Barboza’s talent set.


As a Muay Thai fighter in Brazil, Barboza constructed up an expert document of 25-Three within the sport earlier than shifting to America and transitioning over to blended martial arts (MMA). Already a incredible kicker, Barboza’s years with New Jersey-based coach Mark Henry helped enhance his boxing considerably, though he does nonetheless have exploitable habits. Not too long ago, Barboza relocated to American Prime Group, a huge camp filled with expertise, and it will likely be fascinating to see the place how his growth continues.

Contained in the Octagon, Barboza has completed two males by way of low kick (GIF), one by way of physique kick (GIF), and has a wheel kick stoppage on his document as effectively.

Combating Barboza is a sport of vary. On the entire, Barboza is consistently making an attempt to keep up the kickboxing vary and forestall his foe from closing the gap. He has totally different methods to perform this process, however the methods concerned are usually fairly comparable.

Reverse Gilbert Melendez, for instance, Barboza hardly ever jabbed — prone to restrict Melendez’s possibilities of coming excessive along with his proper hand. As a substitute, Barboza used his low kick as his jab, punishing the lead leg every time Melendez tried to advance into the pocket (GIF). Barboza ate a couple of punches whereas kicking the leg, nevertheless it shortly paid off in limiting Melendez’s mobility.

In his bout with Anthony Pettis, Barboza jabbed much more ceaselessly to cease Pettis from gaining the pocket. Pettis did a much better job than Melendez of feinting his means inside and never giving Barboza a straightforward goal for his proper low kick, however Barboza’s jab to the top and physique stopped Pettis in his tracks. Usually, Barboza would then sneak an inside low kick, which aren’t as instantly devastating, however nonetheless constructed to nice impact.

Essentially the most improved space of Barboza’s kickboxing is his counter punching. Earlier in his profession, Barboza would plant and throw a sloppy proper hand nearly each time he appeared to counter. Presently, Barboza focuses much more on the left hook, squatting down a bit as he opponent advances with punches and firing a decent hook.

That left hook is Barboza’s go-to counter punch, however he has different choices. Whereas his foe is punching, Barboza will usually slip to his left, countering with both a physique shot, left uppercut, or left hook. Reverse Melendez, Barboza discovered ample alternatives to drop down and assault the physique on each side. Final trip towards Dan Hooker, Barboza completed the battle by slipping over and firing his left hook to the physique. In truth, Barboza was trying to double up on the hook (which was working effectively) and missed his second hook to the face solely as a result of the physique shot had crumpled his foe.

Whereas speaking counters, Barboza’s flying knee knockout of Dariush should be talked about. It was a basic instance of a veteran striker choosing up on his foe’s habits, as Dariush was organising each takedown with the jab. Finally, Barboza acknowledged that behavior and appeared to time him. Dariush was taking pictures along with his head on the within, in the direction of Barboza’s energy facet — that turned out to be fairly a mistake (GIF).

All of this counter speak is so essential as a result of fighters have completely no curiosity of being within the kickboxing vary with Barboza. He’s completely devastating there and may shortly dominate even nice fighters when given the house to work.

Barboza’s low kicking is essentially the most well-known side of his distance kickboxing for good cause. His low kicks are ludicrously quick with little inform. That is true for many of Barboza’s kicks, as his setups will not be spectacular or notably tough, however his velocity and energy is outstanding.

Except for the low kick, Barboza’s subsequent greatest weapon is probably going his change kick (GIF). Usually, Barboza assaults to the physique, countering any makes an attempt to circle away from the low kick. There’s additionally Barboza’s spinning kicks, each the wheel kick that knocked out Terry Etim (GIF) and the usual again kick to the intestine. All of those kicks are damaging and thrown with such velocity that Barboza hardly ever must set them as much as land successfully.

Barboza’s final battle with Hooker proved to be one thing of a biggest hits assortment for the Brazilian. Previous to the battle, Hooker was seen as an actual risk to Barboza, a proficient kickboxer with knockout energy, size, and a strong strain sport. As a substitute, Barboza kicked aside his leg early. With an extremely robust fighter unable to do a lot however stumble in the direction of him, Barboza landed dozens and dozens of energy photographs.

Some sadistic bastard made a spotlight reel of all of the kicks Barboza landed in that bout, and it’s worth-watching when you’ve got a distaste for wholesome quads or functioning livers (GIF).

Lastly, an ideal offensive behavior of Barboza’s that comes from Muay Thai is to counter kicks with kicks. Since this behavior is of specific relevance towards Gaethje, we analyzed it in additional element for this week’s method spotlight.

Defensively, Barboza has improved significantly from the time when Jamie Varner chased him down with proper arms, however the core flaw stays: Barboza doesn’t deal with strain all that effectively. These days, it needs to be good and decided strain to undermine the Brazilian, as he’ll counter sloppy aggression with damaging linear blows just like the spinning again kick. However, every of the 4 males to beat Barboza in the previous couple of years — Kevin Lee, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Tony Ferguson and Michael Johnson — did so by pressuring ahead with mixtures, takedowns … or each. Strain suffocates the Brazilian’s kicks, limiting his greatest weapon, and he tends to turn out to be far much less tight defensively when pressured consistently onto his again foot.

Gaethje stated Barboza quits when pressured, and that’s not true — the Brazilian doesn’t quit even when absorbing loopy injury. Nonetheless, he does turn out to be a lot much less scary and appears to have issue re-asserting himself again into the battle.


Barboza is a big Light-weight with nice athleticism, which is a large profit within the wrestling division. Total, Barboza has managed to shock some foes with takedowns and is usually fairly tough to tug to the mat.

When Barboza seems to get on high, it’s usually with that MMA-style working double leg/clinch physique lock that lanky strikers love. It’s simple to grasp why it’s efficient: Barboza crops his ft and catches his opponent off-guard with a surprisingly quick spear to the waist.

Barboza additionally has the choice of making an attempt to journey out his opponent’s leg after catching a kick (GIF). Dumps are a significant a part of Muay Thai, so it needs to be no shock that Barboza is expert with these methods.

It’s actually odd to say that Barboza’s takedown protection is fairly nice when his two most up-to-date losses got here to wrestlers who put him on his again, nevertheless it’s form of true. The Brazilian has wonderful hips. Even when fighters handle to time a shot effectively and land on Barboza’s waist, he bounces again instantly. Barboza additionally does an ideal job of yanking up on an overhook to vary a double leg shot right into a clinch, the place his bodily power and stability usually hold him upright.

Lee and Nurmagomedov are particular fighters. They’ve the identical particular means: whereas recent within the early rounds, no Light-weight (but) can cease Nurmagomedov’s takedown chain or Lee’s long-armed double towards the fence, and that features Barboza. Barboza’s greater difficulty isn’t actually takedown protection, it’s that Nurmagomedov and Lee had been capable of totally overwhelm his protection as soon as really on the mat.

After getting totally pulverized for 5 minutes, Barboza didn’t enter the second spherical the identical athlete in both battle. Had he been capable of defend and restrict injury, there’s an actual likelihood he would have been capable of shift the momentum again into his nook as his foe’s takedowns turned much less fearsome with time.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Although he’s a brown belt, I’ll be trustworthy and admit that I can’t bear in mind a single time Barboza’s offensive jiu-jitsu actually got here into play. Usually, his focus is on kicking folks to items and scrambling up when taken down, neither of which entails submissions.

Defensively, Barboza fell to a rear-naked choke whereas shocked and Ferguson’s masterful snap down right into a d’arce. These are each excusable conditions: it’s the lack to keep up a defensive guard or just lock a foe down and stall that has plagued Barboza on the mat.


Barboza is such an distinctive kicker that it nonetheless looks as if he’s just some answered questions away from the belt. May anybody cease Barboza if his lateral footwork improved, or he was higher capable of shield himself from backside place? At 33 years of age, the door isn’t essentially shut on Barboza to make these adjustments, and a camp change may very well be the repair wanted. One factor is for certain: Gaethje’s uncooked aggression and strain will pressure Barboza to show his growth.

Andrew Richardson, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt, is an expert fighter who trains at Group Alpha Male in Sacramento, California. Along with studying alongside world-class expertise, Andrew has scouted opponents and developed successful methods for a number of of the game’s most elite fighters.

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