Billy Quarantillo will step into the Octagon for the first time this year when he faces Edson Barboza in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs Allen in the featherweight division at the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City on Saturday night.
The unranked Quarantillo is heading into the bout with a knockout win against Alexander Hernandez and will square off against the 14th-ranked Barboza to compete in his second ranked fight in his seven-fight UFC career.
The 34-year-old American spoke to Sportstar about his preparations and analysed the match-up against the Brazilian-American Barboza before the bout.
Q. You will fight 37-year-old Edson Barboza, who is coming off a two-fight losing streak. However, he is more experienced in terms of fights and has fought against the likes of Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson. What are your initial thoughts about the match-up?
This will be my first fight against someone I’ve followed his entire career. Barboza has always been a favourite of mine. When your idols turn into rivals, this is one of those situations where I know I have to beat folks I’ve admired for a long time to get where I need to go.
He’s a very dangerous opponent. He was someone I didn’t have to watch as much footage on because I’d grown up watching him on television. He has been in the UFC for the same amount of time that I’ve been practising martial arts, so it’s a true underdog story.
Q. You trained in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and your opponent has a background in Muay Thai Kickboxing. How do you view your opponent stylistically?
Even though he is a very dangerous striker, I have a lot of weapons at my disposal as well, and I think what makes me more dangerous is that I can stand with him and land some huge shots while also mixing in wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu.
I’m going to be in your face if you’ve ever seen me fight from the first bell to the last bell. I’m going to keep the pace up the whole time. I’m really difficult to finish. And these are some of the advantages I have going into this fight.
Q. Barboza has won almost 60 per cent of his game with a knockout finish. Did facing an aggressive striker make you work on some defensive skills? Or what has been your preparation before this fight?
I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t considered it. I’ve been doing a lot of practising what I’m good at. A lot of what I’ve been working on has been mistakes I’ve made in the past because I know if I can correct the mistakes I’ve made, I can beat this guy.
Q. This will only be your second-ranked fight in the UFC. Also, it is the co-main event of the main card. Does that put additional pressure on you?
It’s motivating. Every fight is bigger than the one before it. I was coming off a huge loss, so I needed that last fight to go out. The pressure of fighting a legend, plus it’s the co-main event. So I take it all and enjoy it because when I wasn’t making money as an amateur fighter, I was serving tables at local restaurants.
I used to dream about days like this when I am actually making money. And now that I’m in these high-pressure situations, with all these huge interviews, I’m feeling the pressure. And, now I’m in these big pressure moments, getting all these big interviews, so I’m taking the pressure and reminding myself that this is what I asked for.
Q. Last week, Israel Adesanya finally got his revenge and title back from Alex Pereira. Your thoughts about both of them and the bout?
I watched the fight. It was inspiring. I’m just a big fan of Israel Adesanya, and the way he came back from 0-3 after getting knocked out by the same opponent in that previous fight was genuinely amazing and a reminder of what I and so many other people love about this sport.
Q. What are your plans from here on?
The next step is to try to become a world champion. I’m 34 years old. I came into the sport late, so I don’t take anything for granted, especially after my last battle against Hernandez. My ambition is to have a big year. I want to fight at least three times this year and keep pushing myself.
Watch the LIVE coverage of UFC Fight Night - Holloway vs Allen on Sony Sports Ten 2 (English), Sony Sports Ten 3 (Hindi) & Sony Sports Ten 4 (Tamil & Telugu) channels at 6:00 am IST on 16th April 2023.
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