Edson Barboza understands that Justin Gaethje can do some serious damage with his kicks, but the lightweight contender believes he’s the top gun when it comes to the kicking game.
The fighters will square off in the headliner of UFC Philadelphia on Saturday, in a contest most hardcore fans have likely had marked down on their mental calendars for months. After all, both men are aggressive, dangerous strikers, and a big of the latter, is on account of their kicks.
Well, while speaking to the media recently, Barboza was not surprisingly asked to weigh-in on the kicking component to the fight. Here’s some of what the Brazilian star said (quotes via MMA Fighting):
“A lot of guys don’t talk about that, because I come from Muay Thai. Everybody tried to finish me with a leg kick, but nobody finished me yet with a leg kick. You can say whatever you want.
“I have two finishes in the UFC with leg kicks. He doesn’t have any finishes in the UFC with the leg kicks. It’s different. You see my style and his style, it’s very different. His leg kicks work well too, he’s a great fighter, but definitely I don’t have only the leg kicks. I have finishes with body kicks, I have finishes with high kicks. I’m definitely the best kicker in the game.”
“He’s a fun guy to watch,” Barboza said. “People like him. And me too, I’m a big fan of [his] fights. I love to watch his fights. It’s going to be a fun night for us. … He has a lot of heart. He’s a true fighter. He walks forward, he goes to bang. That makes me very excited because this fight’s going to be a big war.”
Now, most folks, even Gaethje boosters, would likely concede that Barboza’s kicking game is more comprehensive (as demonstrated in his 2012, spinning wheel kick KO of Terry Etim). Whereas, Gaethje’s feared go to are his leg kicks, which he’s ruined many a leg with.
The question going into this fight, is whether we might see Gaethje turn to his wrestling. Dan Hooker is a very talented striker and Barboza ate him up. Khabib Nurmagomedov and Kevin Lee, however, are top tier grapplers, and they cruised to wins over Barboza.