The UFC’s lightweight rankings are in a bit of limbo. Champion Conor McGregor is on hiatus from the UFC due to the upcoming birth of his daughter, as well as the continued talks for a cross-combat sport superfight with boxing icon Floyd Mayweather.
Edson Barboza, ranked No. 5 in the rankings, is hoping for some shake up in the division. An interim title bout between No. 1 Khabib Nurmagomedov and No. 2 Tony Ferguson was scheduled for UFC 209 last month, but Nurmagomedov had complications bad weight cut and forced to pull out one day prior to the event, canceling the fight. With Nurmagomedov out of action for some time, Ferguson says he’s ready for any bout, to which Barboza — whom Ferguson beat in December 2015 — promptly responded.
— Edson Barboza (@EdsonBarbozaJR) April 8, 2017
“I think McGregor is not the real champ,” Barboza told MMA Junkie. “He has the belt, but – I have more than, almost 20 fights in this division. Ferguson has more than 10 fights in this division. Khabib has almost 10 fights in this division. And I think the next champ is going to be the fight for the interim belt. And I really hope the UFC gives me a chance to fight with Tony Ferguson, because he said he wants to fight, and I want to fight, too. I hope the UFC gives me this chance.”
McGregor technically only has one fight in the lightweight division in UFC — a main event bout at UFC 205, where he defeated Eddie Alvarez for the division’s title, becoming the only UFC fighter to hold two divisions’ titles simultaneously.
“I don’t really think about this guy,” Barboza said on McGregor. “I don’t keep my focus on him. I really don’t care about him.”
Since that loss to Ferguson, Barboza has won his last three straight. This streak includes wins over former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis at UFC 197, Gilbert Melendez at a UFC on Fox in July, and, most recently, a win over Beneil Dariush at a UFC Fight Night last month. His win over Dariush, a flying knee KO, earned a Performance of the Night bonus. After that bout, Barboza did call out Ferguson for a rematch.
“So many guys talk about this fight,” Barboza said. “It’s a rematch for me. I think this fight makes sense for us. It makes sense for me; it makes sense for him. I know he said he doesn’t want to wait, and I’m here – I’m ready. You guys remember the last fight I had with him. It was a really good fight, one of the best of the year. Imagine, guys, five rounds, me and him, with a full camp.
“My last fight against him, I had a four-week camp. I got the fight on short notice. Imagine, guys, five rounds. That’s going to be a good fight – maybe one of the best fights of the year.”