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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
One of the more shocking results in recent UFC history came last weekend at UFC 146, as former WEC Champion Jamie Varner defeated previously unbeaten Edson Barboza in the first round on short notice.
Varner had been released by Zuffa at the tail end of 2010 when many of his WEC cohorts were brought into the UFC, and he had come near retirement after a decision loss to Dakota Cochrane in 2011. However, after two stoppage victories got him the last minute call up to face Barboza, Varner made the most of it.
It was a shocking display considering Varner's checkered recent history, along with Barboza coming off of a "Knockout of the Year" leader over Terry Etim in January. For Barboza, the fight was a bit of a wake up call, and it's something he doesn't plan on having happen again.
"I couldn't fight, I didn't do what my coach told me to," Barboza said in an interview with Tatame.com. "I froze. It happens to any fighter. Even because I had never been that prepared for a fight like I was this time. I had an amazing training camp, my cardio was great and I really was 100 percent. But I got stuck."
"I'm learning many things, I'll analyze it and correct my flaws. Next fight you'll see a much more experienced Edson and also more prepared."
The stoppage came after Varner hurt Barboza with several strikes, then rushed him against the cage with another flurry. Barboza insists he wasn't out, but he ultimately agreed with the referee's decision in the fight.
"I wasn't out, I was seeing things clearly," he said. "But, after, when I watched the tape as a fan, I thought he made the right [decision] even because I wasn't moving nor defending myself. I was aware but I wasn't defending myself."
Penick's Analysis: Barboza's got nothing but time right now. At only 26-year-old, he's still got years to hone his skills, close up holes in his game, and become an even better version of what we had seen up to the UFC 146 card. Every fighter loses; it's a part of the sport of MMA. No one is ever going to go undefeated at the highest levels of the sport, and for Barboza the important thing now is to bounce back in a strong and positive way. This was an unexpected and mostly shocking loss, but he absolutely can still be a force in the lightweight division. He ran into a former WEC Champ who still has something left in the tank on Saturday night, and there's no shame in that. Now it's time to get back to work.
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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