Heading into UFC 142: Aldo vs. Mendes, there were rumblings that highly-regarded Brazilian prospect Edson Barboza - previously known best for his leg kick finish of Mike Lullo - might be overrated, his past two fights having gone to close decisions. People wondered if they got too high on Barboza too fast, or if the 25-year-old just wasn't quite ready for the UFC's top-tier competition.
Well, last night in his backyard of Rio de Janeiro, Barboza proved those concerns unfounded.
Barboza met English veteran Terry Etim, who's been competing in the UFC since 2007, in the first fight on the main card. Though Etim came out of the gates hot, giving Barboza some trouble early on, the young Brazilian was able to keep his cool and take back control of the fight, largely by virtue of those trademark leg kicks.
With the third round starting to wind down, it looked like Barboza was on his way to win another tactical decision over a game opponent. Then, with about two minutes left, the Armory representative launched a wheel kick that connected beautifully flush with the right side of Etim's face, setting him stiff as a board and sending him crashing slowly to the mat.
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The knockout was spectacular, one of the best ever, and will live on in MMA highlights for years to come. For Barboza though, it just represents hard work paying off in his home country.
"When you fight in Brazil, it's unlike fighting in any other place in the world," said Barboza. "In a fight, you try things and hope they work. Tonight, it (the kick) worked. It's something I've practiced a lot and I finally was able to land it hard. I'm happy with this outcome and you can expect more of that soon."
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