March 10, 2017

UFC Fight Night 106: Barboza vs. Dariush Brings New Title Implications

By Raphael Garcia

UFC PPV events are usually showcases for the biggest fights the promotion has to offer. However, important bouts featuring fighters outside of the title picture often fill the cards on the various Fox platforms . One such fight is slated for FS1, as lightweights Edson Barboza and Beneil Dariush are scheduled to face one another in the UFC Fight Night 106 co-main event.

Dariush and Barboza are two Top 10 lightweights looking for the marquee wins that will push them into title contention. They’ve bolstered their respective resumes with wins over the likes of Paul Felder and Anthony Pettis for Barboza, and Jim Miller and Michael Johnson for Dariush, but neither man has gotten the opportunity to challenge for the title. This is due to the unfortunate losses they have suffered at key moments in their UFC tenures.

Barboza is an uber-violent talent that throws with a precision and power that makes onlookers cringe with every strike. Even in the bouts that he’s lost, he’s earned the adulation and respect of fans for the way he competes, constantly pressing forward with the intent to remain aggressive. Since joining the UFC nearly seven years ago, he’s put together a 12-4 record that includes some of the best highlights seen in the sport. Dariush, on the other hand, is a decorated, world champion grappler that has transitioned well into the MMA realm. This is an intriguing stylistic matchup, and the current state of the lightweight division makes a victory on Saturday night that much more important for the two men.

Conor McGregor is currently sitting on the sidelines, flirting with a fight not only outside of the division, but outside the sport as a whole. UFC 209 was expected to be an opportunity for the division to progress, but the cancellation of the Tony Ferguson vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov Interim Lightweight Championship bout put a stop to that. However, by the mere fact of the fight being booked (for a third time, no less), it’s clear that the UFC wants to crown an interim champion rather than wait for McGregor to return. Unfortunately, the best opportunity to do so slipped through the company’s grasp. Although this weekend’s winner may not be immediately thrust into that conversation, an impressive win could put him on the short list.

This is a fight in which both fighters have an advantage over their opponent in key areas, so where this fight occurs will speak to which man is imposing his will. Expect Dariush to attempt to get the fight to the floor, an area where Barboza has struggled in the past. If he can’t find the takedown, Dariush will have to deal with the violence that comes with every blow Barboza throws. This is a classic take on the idea that styles make fights, and this bout pits a grappler against a striker. It's also a pairing of two men with a penchant for exciting bouts, regardless of if they win or lose.

The lightweight division is wide open in a way that it hasn’t been for a very long time. The 155-pound weight class needs a contender to welcome McGregor back to action or take a slot in an interim title bout. A win for Edson Barboza or Beneil Dariush helps the winner stake a claim to one of those slots. And by the time the UFC Fight Night 106 co-main event is over, either Barboza or Dariush could find himself in a position to take full advantage of the opportunity that a big victory on Saturday night affords him.

UFC Fight Night 106: Belfort vs. Gastelum (formerly UFC Fight Night 107: Belfort vs. Gastelum) takes place March 11, 2017 at Centro de Formacao Olimpica do Nordeste in Fortaleza, Ceara, Brazil.

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