Josh Emmett is not one to turn down opponents, but he was surprised to see his next fight announced without even knowing about it.
It was posted on various media outlets that Emmett (15-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) would face Edson Barboza at UFC Oklahoma City on May 2, which was news to Emmett.
Emmett told MMA Junkie that while the name had been discussed, there was certainly no deal in place to face Barboza.
“When my wife and I were in Vietnam, my manager asked me, just because the UFC threw out a name, and they’re like, ‘Hey, they’re wondering if you wanted to fight Edson Barboza April 25 in Nebraska,’” Emmett said. “And at this time, I was on vacation. I was injured – that’s why I was out there – and I was thinking that was just too soon. I wasn’t even coming back to the States for another week or two.
“I actually just found out online. I was on the phone with my manager when this was put out there and I was asking him about possible dates, possible opponents, and then my phone was blowing up and I opened Instagram. … I was like, ‘Oh, they announced this fight,’ They never even asked me.”
Emmett was scheduled to face Arnold Allen at UFC on ESPN+ 24 in January, but was forced out due to an undisclosed injury. He was targeting a return starting mid-May through July, but was initially offered the Barboza fight too early. Emmett said that while it was never going to happen on May 2, he is open to facing Barboza in the future.
“I’m really not opposed to the fight, but they have to ask me,” Emmett said. “I never got the call. I never asked to fight on that date or against him there, and I just saw people (saying), ‘Oh, I’m going to buy tickets to this,’ and I felt bad because I don’t even have a bout agreement. They haven’t even asked me to fight in Oklahoma, and supposedly it was going down.
“I also have one fight left on my contract, so the whole thing with that is, I was saying I’ll fight anybody – it just has to make sense because from a business standpoint and what I’m trying to accomplish. If Barboza were to come down to featherweight, it’s high risk for not much of a reward. He comes down – say he beats me. Then he takes my spot, and they probably push him. For me – I win, I stay where I’m at.”
Since dropping down to featherweight, Emmett has won four of five and is coming off back-to-back finishes of Michael Johnson and Mirsad Bektic. He’s hoping to secure a fight against a top-ranked opponent next, but so far hasn’t been offered the names he’s looking for.
Barboza, on the other hand, has lost four of his past five. So Emmett hopes that with one fight left on his contract the UFC would sweeten the pot if he’s offered the Barboza fight again.
“I’m not opposed to it,” Emmett said. “It has to make sense, and in that case (Barboza), whether there’s something in there, I beat him, then I get this. Or financially, if it’ll set me up for later on, then of course – yeah, I’m open to it. But it has to make sense. He’s a threat. He’s a dangerous fighter, but it seems like I’m fighting all these people behind me, or I’m always the person, when someone is coming down from ’55, I’m the one to stay there when I do want to move forward.”