Edson Barboza Admits to Falling into the Game of Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 219

Edson Barboza, Khabib Nurmagomedov

At UFC 219, Edson Barboza had his impressive three-fight win streak stopped on the wrong end of a dominating performance by Khabib Nurmagomedov. It was Barboza’s biggest fight of his life and he came up short. Even though it was admittedly one of the most painful losses in his career, Barboza is ready to get back in the cage as soon as possible. Replaying the fight in his latest interview, he candidly reveals he played into Nurmagoemdov’s game and some of his tactics caught him off guard.

”I really didn’t expect that to happen, man. I was very upset the week after the fight because I was well prepared, had a wonderful camp. It was a tough loss, no doubt about it. It was pretty much how we imagined it. I knew he wouldn’t take me down in the middle of the Octagon. I knew that his only chance to take me down was close to the fence, so I obviously worked that a lot, but he was able to impose his game, and I couldn’t get out of there. That was the problem. I fell in his game, I spent 15 minutes doing his game.”

“Honestly, I didn’t expect [Nurmagomedov ro rush forward]. He walked backwards in all of his previous fights before he went for takedowns. I was prepared for it, but I thought he would do what he always did, to avoid the striking. It surprised me that he moved forward. I was aware of what was happening the entire time, and I believed it until the end. Things were going wrong but I kept thinking, ‘Brother, if he gives me a chance I’ll finish the fight.’ I remember everything that happened that night.” — Edson Barboza speaking to MMA Fighting.

Even Edson Barboza can respect his opponent’s strategy.  When you’re fighting one of the most dangerous strikers in the division, you can’t give him space. Khabib Nurmagomedov rushed Barboza and, even if he couldn’t get the initial takedown, he’d force him up against the cage in order to secure it. While he didn’t come out on top at UFC 219, it’s clear Edson Barboza wants to bounce back quick and there is no shortage of exciting opponents he could jump into a fight with.

This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 1/10/2018.