This past weekend in the main event of UFC Vegas 81, we saw an instant classic in the featherweight division. Top contenders and fan favorites battled it out as Edson Barboza (24-11) took on “Super” Sodiq Yusuff (13-3).
Entering the bout, I was a little worried about the inactivity from Yusuff and for that reason, I leaned every so slightly towards Barboza. However, Yusuff came out of the gate and put his foot on the gas. Yusuff rocked Barboza throughout the first round and easily did enough damage for a 10-8. However, he couldn’t put him away.
Starting in the second round after he recovered, Barboza started taking over. A combination of long strikes, speed, and his famous kicks were picking apart Yusuff. He even dropped Yusuff in the third round with a wheel kick in classic Barboza fashion.
In the fifth round, Barboza even mixed things up with a takedown. After getting completely dominated in the first round at UFC Vegas 81, Barboza would go on to sweep the remaining rounds winning a clear and impressive decision.
What’s next after UFC Vegas 81?
This was a massive win for Barboza who won both of his fights this year. Prior to his fight against Billy Quarantillo back in April at UFC Kansas City, it had been a year since Barboza had fought. He had dealt with a serious knee injury which kept him out of action for most of 2022 and the beginning of 2023.
Now that he’s fully recovered, Barboza looks like a force at 145 and could be at or very close to the top ten once the rankings come out tomorrow. So, now that he’s won back-to-back fights in incredibly impressive fashion, what’s next for Edson Barboza?
In looking at the rankings, there are a couple of fights that jump out to me at 145. I do really like the idea of him fighting a guy like Calvin Kattar. A win over Kattar would get him very close to the title picture. However, I also wouldn’t mind seeing him and Josh Emmett mix it up next.
Emmett has lost two in a row, but he’s still sixth in the featherweight division. A win over Barboza would be huge to get Emmett back on track, but a win over Emmett would get Barboza right near the top five. If I was the UFC, that’s the direction I would go in first.