Edson Barboza makes his debut as a featherweight after a long run in the UFC lightweight division when he takes on Dan Ige on May 16. But the dangerous striker came close to never again fighting in the octagon.
In a surprising social media post two months ago, Barboza wrote he was “very thankful for these almost 10 years that I have been working for the company,” but thought it was “time to move on.”
After he voiced his dissatisfaction, it didn’t take long for the UFC to negotiate a fight with Josh Emmett for May 2. But the deal was never finalized.
Now, with a bout agreement signed to face Ige in Jacksonville, Fla., Barboza explains why he voiced his dissatisfaction with the UFC.
“You want to change when you’re not satisfied where you are, and that was the moment right there,” Barboza told MMA Fighting. “I was ready to fight, man, asking for a fight since December, and that’s what bothered me. I asked for a fight in December and was like, ‘OK, cool, you’ll fight in December.’ And then December was over, and January, February, March, April, and no fight. That bothered me a bit, because I wanted to fight. I’m healthy, I’m ready to fight, and I wasn’t fighting. You’ll fight, you won’t, you will, you won’t.”
According to Barboza, the UFC told his manager “we won’t release him, [but] we won’t let him go.”
“Asking for my release wasn’t my first option. My first option was fighting,” Barboza said. “I wanted to fight. Me asking for my release was only an excuse like, ‘What’s up, brother, please give me a fight.’ I have to fight, man. I have to fight. Like I said, my main option was fighting – not getting released by the UFC. But if I had left the UFC, there would be no problem either.
“They didn’t let me go, and this fight came. Like I said, that was the whole problem. I was ready and wanted to fight since December. That’s what annoyed me. I told my manager I was ready to fight in December, and now I’m fighting in May. Look how much time I’ve been ready to fight. It’s crazy.”
Barboza, 20-8 as a pro MMA fighter, has racked up a 14-8 record under the UFC banner, fighting against some of the best 155-pounders in the company. Almost one decade into his UFC career, he celebrates the fact he’s finally getting back to work.
“It got to a point I was full of it, man,” Barboza said. “I’m 34 and I don’t have time to waste, you know, waiting for others. I have to work, especially because I’m healthy and I want to work. That moment I really wanted to leave, but thank God I have a fight now. I continue in the UFC, I continue being grateful. I love what I do and I will continue doing my best in the UFC, as always.”