Like many lightweights at the top of the division in the UFC, Edson Barboza remains in a holding pattern waiting for word about Conor McGregor’s return to the Octagon.
McGregor won the title at 155-pounds last November, but since that time he’s largely disappeared from the UFC landscape prior to booking a boxing match with Floyd Mayweather on Aug. 26.
Meanwhile, the lightweight title has remained inactive, although UFC president Dana White has stated that McGregor intends to return to defend his title before the end of the year.
As of now, there’s still no guarantee McGregor will return to the UFC in 2017 much less that he’ll be defending his belt and that just doesn’t sit well with Barboza, who is currently riding a three-fight win streak while occupying the No. 4 slot in the rankings.
“Conor stays out for a long time, I don’t think he worries about the UFC, don’t worry about the division. He [doesn’t] respect us and the UFC don’t get his belt,” Barboza explained when speaking to the Fight Society podcast. “I really don’t understand why the UFC got the belt from [Germaine de Randamie] and why the UFC [doesn’t] get the belt from Conor? Take the belt [from] Conor, I really don’t understand.
“I think this belt in the UFC, Conor’s not a real champ.”
Barboza’s ire would most likely be shared by fellow top ranked lightweights such as Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson, who are both sitting near the top of the divisional rankings with no certain future when it comes to a title shot this year.
With McGregor now focused on his boxing match with Mayweather, Barboza believes it’s time for the UFC to move forward with one of the most stacked divisions in the sport. That’s why Barboza advocates for the UFC to strip McGregor of his title so a new champion can be crowned.
“This guy is thinking about boxing, he’s thinking about another sport. He don’t think about the UFC, he don’t think about the division,” Barboza said. “That’s my job, that’s my work. I’m in the UFC to get the belt. I’m in the UFC to be the champ. I know I deserve the chance.
“This guy because of him our division is stuck. That’s not good. This guy doesn’t respect nobody, he doesn’t respect the UFC and he’s still champ. That’s crazy.”
Barboza is currently targeting his return for the late summer or early fall and he just wants the opportunity to compete against another top ranked fighter so he can eventually compete for the championship.
After facing a laundry list of top fighters throughout his UFC career, Barboza feels like this is finally his time to reach the pinnacle of the sport and he just wants his chance to prove it.
“I’m No. 4 in the rankings,” Barboza explained. “My last two fights, I fought somebody behind me in the rankings. Right now, I have three guys in front of me — Khabib [Nurmagomedov], [Tony] Ferguson and Eddie [Alvarez]. Eddie’s my training partner, I definitely will not fight with him. He’s my friend. I have two guys in front of me, I hope the UFC gives me the chance to fight one of those guys, Khabib or Ferguson. I don’t know what’s going on.
“I’m in the line, I hope to fight one of these guys. I worked for the UFC for a long time, I think I deserve to fight somebody in front of me if I want to get a chance at a title shot.”