Barboza vs Burgos: UFC 262’s Gem
By James Lee
2021 so far has seen the UFC showcase some of their most skilled talent, while producing fights worthy of the highest recognition they have rightfully garnered.
UFC 262 this weekend is no different as former Bellator champion Michael Chandler and veteran Charles Oliveira compete for the vacant lightweight belt amid Khabib Nurmagomedov’s relinquishing of the title earlier this year. The ever-thrilling Tony Ferguson is likewise occupating the co-headliner role.
However, one fight that could top them all and take the shine from the entire event is the main card opener between Edson Barboza and Shane Burgos.
Every combat fan is vastly aware of the intricacies of Edson Barboza’s career. A devastating Brazilian revered by many for his vicious leg strikes and knockout executions. Very few fans can ever forget his highlight-reel finishes against Terry Etim, Beneil Dariush and Dan Hooker.
Yet, and besides such knockouts, Barboza is well-established as an acclaimed fighter; consistently fighting some of the sport’s greatest since making his debut in the sport’s premier promotion in 2010.
Though as he had prolonged victories at lightweight, he has found mixed success at his new featherweight home more recently. A controversial decision loss to Dan Ige rendered a negative commencement, but he bounced back late last year with a confident performance over Makwan Amirkhani. Consequently, he has vowed to repeat his earlier lightweight success at featherweight after a period of career stagnation.
Shane Burgos, on the other hand, might be the most underrated fighter in the 145 lbs division. His only two professional losses have come to Calvin Kattar and Josh Emmett in extremely competitive outlets, with the most recent claiming the fight of the night honour.
Triumph against Kurt Holobaugh, Cub Swanson and Makwan Amirkhani have confirmed his pre-promotion hype. The victory over Amirkhani, in particular, showcased his true potential. Not only did he overcome a tough challenger with a third-round finish, but he also did it while showing resilience, grit and hostility.
Crucially, there is little dispute about the high-quality nature of the UFC’s featherweight division and this fight is the ideal showcase of that. Two men who do little but continuously go forward and have a proven track record of withstanding immense punishment to get their hand raised.
However, aside from the excitement encompassing the contest, the massive stakes surrounding their contendership adds a heightened level of dangerous emotion. The pair are ranked #14 and #15 respectively, and with the plethora of talent ahead and surfacing talent behind them, there is little room for error. A loss for either will see their position as a ranked fighter vulnerable, with the journey back to the top immeasurable.
Ultimately, as most of the fanbase is awaiting the long-awaited conclusion to the prolonged lightweight debacle, the lasting memory of the event could quite well be on the pay-per-view opener between Barboza vs Burgos