Yusuff (13-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) nearly finished Barboza (24-11 MMA, 18-11 UFC) in one of the opening exchanges. Experience prevailed though, as Barboza was able to rally back to earn a unanimous decision with scores of 49-46, 48-46, and 48-46.
The two featherweights met in the middle and immediately began throwing down. Yusuff kept his guard high while throwing hard punches as Barboza fired back.
After Barboza just missed the mark with a big jumping knee, Yusuff rocked the Brazilian with a powerful left hook followed by a sharp right hand. Barboza was clearly hurt and in survival mode early within the first minute of the fight.
“Super” Sodiq didn’t rush, but he continually applied more pressure with strikes, eventually taking top control on the mat as Barboza did his best to remain in the fight by threatening submissions from the bottom.
Looking to get back into it, the bruised and bloodied Barboza came out firing strikes to start Round 2. Yusuff remained defensively sound as he resumed his own offense. In the last 90 seconds of the round, Barboza began to mount some momentum as he was able to keep Yusuff close to the fence.
The striking exchanges continued at a steady pace in Round 3 as Barboza began to appear recovered from the first-round scare. Keeping the pressure high, Barboza began getting the better of more and more exchanges. Suddenly out of nowhere, Barboza uncorked a wheel kick that rocked Yusuff. The swarm was on for Barboza, but the finish wasn’t there.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) October 15, 2023
In Round 4, fatigue was apparent in both fighters, but that didn’t mean the action slowed. Barboza offered more forward pressure, but Yusuff was right there to return fire with punches and kicks as they exchanged strikes.
Barboza continued pressing the action in the final frame. Not only did he fire first in exchanges, he kept the volume high throughout the round. Barboza also mixed things up with a couple of takedowns and work in the clinch against the cage.
The judges were unanimous in declaring Barboza the winner, as he successfully completed the comeback from an early near finish.
What a performance by @EdsonBarbozaJR 👏
— UFC (@ufc) October 15, 2023
During his post-fight interview, Barboza admitted he was nearly done in the opening round.
“I was very dizzy,” Barboza told Michael Bisping. “I didn’t know if I was in the gym, if I was in my house playing with the kids. I said, ‘What the f*ck is going on?’ Then, OK. I’m back in the fight.”
With the win, Barboza makes it two in a row, as he entered on the heels of a nasty first-round finish of Billy Quarantillo in April.
This story originally appeared on MMA Junkie