UFC 162's Edson Barboza: 'I Know I Can Become the Champion'

Damon MartinContributor IJuly 4, 2013

photo courtesy of Felipe Dana/Associated Press
photo courtesy of Felipe Dana/Associated Press

There's always a chance something exciting will happen whenever lightweight striker Edson Barboza is fighting.

From his first day in the UFC when he brutalized Mike Lullo with a series of leg kicks to his fight-of-the-night war against Anthony Njokuani, Barboza has gained quite a reputation for flashy standup and serious power from all angles.

Barboza proved it even more when he uncorked one of the most memorable knockouts in UFC history with his spinning wheel kick that absolutely flattened British fighter Terry Etim. The knockout landed on every UFC highlight reel, and remains one of the most talked about finishes to ever happen in the sport.

But being a striker with lightning quick knockouts isn't why Barboza is doing MMA, much less why he worked so hard to make it to the UFC. He doesn't want to be known only for a few highlights—he wants to be remembered as one of the best.

"I got much more experience since my first fight. The desire to be the champion steadily increasing," Barboza told Bleacher Reprot. "Today I know I can become the champion."

To attain the training to truly reach the top levels of the sport, Barboza had to travel out of his comfort zone and begin working with fighters that would push his own limits and make him better in the areas where he was weakest.

So Barboza picked up and moved to New Jersey to join the team led by former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar. Now the two are fast friends, helping each other every step of the way as Barboza hopes to one day hold the gold belt Edgar once wore proudly.

"I moved my whole camp training from Florida to New Jersey. Now, I train with Frankie Edgar and Ricardo Almeida's team. Up here I found not only partners and coaches, but also really good friends. The training over here fit exactly with my game. I have been learning everyday during my camp and I can also help out my partners. We help each other in each training," Barboza said. "Then, I was feeling really good in my last fight. I was feeling much better and confident. I knew that I learned a lot during my training. It was very nice to bring this victory with this team by my side.

"They are my team now. I have been work with them since the last fight of Frankie against Ben Henderson. As I said I found the coaches and partners that I was needing to be by my side. We work really well together."

As much as Barboza is learning from Edgar and his fellow teammates, he knows he still has an arsenal on the feet that few can match in the UFC. If any fighter stays standing with the former Muay Thai champion for very long, it's probably going to end badly for them.

The scariest part about Barboza's striking game? He hasn't even shown off everything he knows yet.

"There are a lot of good strikers in the UFC lightweight division. I think I am one of the best strikers in my division," Barboza said. "I know I can show much more of my striking game."

Next up is the challenge ahead at UFC 162 where he will fight on the same card as his friend and training partner Frankie Edgar. It's just another rung up the ladder for Barboza as he tries to step closer and closer towards the top 10 of the division, and then eventually get to a position where he can compete for a title.

"I want to be the champion," Barboza said. "I will do my best to make it happen."

Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and all quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.