Despite a gutsy display from Ross Pearson, Edson Barboza’s technical striking allowed him to claim a split decision victory in front of his home fans in Brazil at UFC 134 this evening.

Barboza looked to be the more dangerous striker on paper going into this match-up, but in the opening round the UK’s Pearson utilized a smart strategy that nullified some of the threat from the Brazilian’s dangerous kicks.

Pressing the action and coming forward with flurries of punches Pearson gave Barboza little time to settle and often had him on the back foot.

Still, Barboza showed good footwork to circle away from many of Pearson’s charges and showed slick and speedy technique in his own strikes at times and landed a big spinning back kick to the torso at one stage.

Onto the second round and Barboza had the biggest moment of the fight so far early as he caught a body kick from Pearson and then delivered a hard one of his own before landing big with a right hand that dropped the Brit.

Pearson showed his toughness by springing straight back to his feet though and got straight back into the thick of it, continuing to press forward and keep Barboza off balance.

While he was having some success Barboza was also beginning to time him better with counters and was finding opportunities to snap off some more hard body kicks. He also appeared to hurt Pearson again with a series of hooks, but a slip gave Pearson time to back off and regroup.

In the final round the pace began to slow a little with Pearson not able to muster up the same number of forward charging flurries as in the previous round, and resorting to takedown attempts at times that failed to come to fruition.

Meanwhile Barboza seemed comfortable to just pick his shots and take the fight to a decision. As the round drew to a close Pearson mustered up the strength to push the pace once more and manages to hem Barboza in against the cage and the two exchange blows, with both landing but the Brazilian getting the better of it, opening up a cut above Pearson’s right eye to go with the haematoma that’s been developing on his left.

And so it’s down to the judges and it seems that Pearson’s continual efforts to push forward have caught the eye of one who scores the fight 29-28 in his favor, but the other two see it for Barboza by a similar margin, handing him the split decisio victory.

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