For three straight rounds, Edson Barboza and Paul Felder both resembled coiled King Cobras -- ready to spring into lethal attacks. After fifteen minutes of back-and-forth striking on the feet, Barboza emerged with the unanimous decision victory.
Scores were 29-28, all around, for Barboza. "I train with the best team in the world. Thank God for another victory. I trained so hard for this fight," he said, afterwards, before asking the UFC for fights with opponents ranked higher than him, next.
The first period began with sharp exchanges of strikes on the feet. The first of what would be many spinning kicks from Barboza landed, prompting an appreciative fist bump from Felder. The Brazilian followed up with another spinning heel kick, but this one landed right in the groin, hard.
Felder somehow recovered after a couple minutes of rest, and then returned to fighting just as aggressively as he was before. Near the end of the round, Felder hurt Barboza with a big punch, but the kickboxer looked unfazed.
The second round saw Barboza continue with spinning strike attacks, as Felder attempted to cut right down the middle with his straight punches. Near the end of the stanza, Barboza began to find his roundhouse kick, to the legs and body, and mixed in hard body punches.
At the start of the third round, the two men walked to the center of the cage, embraced and bumped fists before continuing their battle. As with the two previous periods, the two lightweights traded big shots.
Late in the round, Felder attempted to change the complexion of the bout with a takedown attempt. Barboza defended it well against the cage, however, and continued to connect a hair more during their exchanges.
The loss is the first of Felder's career, as the young prospect dips to 10-1. Barboza, on the other hand, got back on the winning track and bumped his mark to 16-3.
"I'm ready for it," Barboza said with excitement, afterwards, referring to a possible run at the UFC belt.
"I'm ready for the wars."
He was certainly ready for this one, as was his opponent. Felder made an impression on his largest stage to date and will not fall far down the ladder despite the loss.