HOUSTON – When Shane Burgos was offered Edson Barboza, he could barely contain his excitement as he thought about the potential violence the matchup could bring.
“Oh man, I got goosebumps,” Burgos told reporters Wednesday at UFC 262 media day. “I got my hair standing up. I was like, ‘Yes, this is the one, man.’ When you come off a loss, you don’t know what you’re going to get offered. You don’t know what you’re going to get. But to get offered a name like Edson Barboza off a loss? I feel like this is the biggest fight of my career, honestly.”
Burgos (13-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) and Barboza (21-9 MMA, 15-9 UFC) face off in the pay-per-view main card opener Saturday at Toyota Center. It will be the first time that Burgos has competed since a June 2020 unanimous decision loss to Josh Emmett, which earned “Fight of the Night” honors.
Since that time, a lot has happened. Burgos caught COVID-19 and, as a result, a scheduled fight against Hakeem Dawodu fell through. A few weeks ago, Burgos’ wife gave birth. The past year has been a rollercoaster, but it’s only built Burgos’ anticipation and eagerness to return to the cage with a victory – and do so in style.
“I’ve had some good wins in the UFC, but I need that statement-making win,” Burgos said. “To do that over someone like Edson Barboza, who is a legend in the sport (and) is definitely going to be a Hall of Famer, this is the one. This is the one for me. … It’s one of those fights that if you run it 100 times, it’s going to be exciting every single time. There’s no possible way that this fight could be boring.”
Burgos, 30, understands that, even if he wins, he’ll likely get hurt. Barboza is known for his highlight-reel knockouts, durability, and willingness to engage. That’s what Burgos signed up for. In some ways, it catalyzes his performance, he said.
“I’ve been seeing his highlight reel since I was in high school,” Burgos said. “For the next couple of days, you know when Edson’s fighting they like playing that spinning hook kick of Terry Etim during fight week. I know I’m going to be seeing that. It’s similar to when I fought Emmett. They just kept replaying Emmett knockouts, and I’m just like, ‘All right, all right. That’s good. That’s OK.’ It’s good because it keeps that little bit of fear – those nerves. And you need those.”