Throughout his MMA career, Edson Barboza has shown a willingness to surrender octagon or cage space in an attempt to force the opponent to be the aggressor and close the distance. This strategy gives him a chance to pick up tendencies and defensive flaws he could exploit during the fight. For instance, during the fight against Paul Felder, Barboza noticed that Felder carried his hands at chest height. Furthermore, he would only move the hands up to block head strikes which means that his midsection was always exposed. As a result, every time Felder would get within striking range, Edson would target the area by throwing a left kick to the body, right spinning back kicks to the body or an occasional left hook to the midsection. The strategy forced Paul to stop his forward progress for a couple of seconds, which allowed Edson to circle out in either direction.
However, one can argue that Edson Barboza’s fighting style will be the catalyst for a potential defeat to Khabib Nurmagomedov. This is because Barboza has a habit of mostly using his kicks to exploit his opponents weaknesses. For instance, during the fight against Gilbert Melendez, Barboza realized that Melendez was putting most of his body weight on his front leg. Barboza knew that if he targeted the leg, it would be hard for him to move or stand which meant that he could not shoot for a proper takedown. As a result, he repeatedly threw the right low kick to that leg which forced Melendez to be a sitting duck.
Therefore, Edson Barboza will put himself at risk for a potential takedown against Khabib because of a kick getting caught. If this happens, Khabib will grab the leg and start pushing him towards the fence. Once this process is complete, he will regrip the legs to attempt a takedown to get the fight to the ground. If he is successful, he will proceed to establish wrist control and try to land some ground and pound.