Edson Barboza returned to the win column with a decision over Makwan Amirkhani on Oct. 10 in Abu Dhabi, and could be leaving the UFC in the near future.
The experienced Brazilian striker spoke with MMA Fighting on Friday and revealed he only has one bout left on his current deal with the company, and will fight out of his contract before deciding his future in the sport.
“I have one more fight on my contract and I plan on doing this fight, and we’ll think about what we’ll do next after the contract is completed,” Barboza said. “I’m in the UFC for 10 years, I love fighting in the UFC, and everything I have today I’ve undoubtedly conquered with the UFC so I love being there, but I’m open to offers — after this fight, of course.
“The same way I’m anxious to my next fight, I’m also anxious to knowing what my next steps will be after the fight. I honestly don’t know really well what will happen, but I’ll wait for after this fight first and then see what my decisions are.”
Barboza asked for his UFC release earlier this year due to the long layoff between fights, and was then booked to face Dan Ige in his featherweight debut. Barboza lost a controversial split decision in Jacksonville, Fla., and returned five months later to defeat Amirkhani on Fight Island.
Barboza was happy with his performance in Abu Dhabi, especially after having to adapt from his original opponent, Sodiq Yusuff, to Amirkhani, but admits he feared for another controversial decision defeat following split losses to Paul Felder and Ige.
“I’m gonna be honest with you, I was scared,” he said. “When the fight was over I thought, ‘F*ck, oh my God, I can’t believe it, is it happening again?’ And one judge gave me a 29-28, and I had no 10-8 rounds even though I knocked him down two or three times in one round. We never know what’s going to happen when it goes to the judges’ hands, but, honestly, I was afraid of that decision.”
The Brazilian veterans wants to waste no time on the sidelines again, saying that returning to action on UFC’s final card of the year on Dec. 19 “would be perfect” depending on who’s standing across the octagon.
“Look at my history at ‘55, I’ve fought the best in the world there, I’ve fought them all at ‘55,” Barboza said. “The top-6, whoever the UFC offers me, I’m in.”
The top-6 of the featherweight division currently features former champion Max Holloway, Brian Ortega, Zabit Magomedsharipov, Yair Rodriguez, “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung and Calvin Kattar. Barboza is down to facing any of them.
“Ortega will probably fight for the belt now,” Barboza said. “‘The Korean Zombie’ is coming off a loss to Ortega but he’s a great athlete. Kattar is No. 6 and is coming off wins, good fights, and that would be a great fight on the feet. Holloway is the No. 1, I don’t know if they would offer me that but it’s a great matchup, no doubt. It would be a great fight.”
“Zabit, we trained together in the past, he’s a great fighter, a nice guy,” he added. “We’re not that close but no doubt, with the utmost respect to him and that entire team, I’d take this fight. Like I said, anyone in the top-6, I’m in.”