Dubai: Edson Barboza was given a 50-50 survival chance of survival past infancy after being born prematurely at 28 weeks.

Now 33 years later, the native from Rio de Janeiro is living his dream as one of the most exciting fighters in the world of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). On Saturday, he will be paired up against American Paul Felder in the build-up to the Khabib vs Poirier bout that headlines UFC 242.

“Saturday will be more than survival for me,” Barboza told Gulf News. “I survived [infancy] and today I have a task to complete by being the best fighter in my Lightweight division. That is my purpose for still being around,” he added.

At the age of eight, Barboza began practising and competing in Muay Thai where his professional record stood at 25-3 with 22 victories by knockout and 17 first round finishes. He moved to the US in January 2009 and joined ‘The Armory’ in Florida.

Barboza faced Khabib Nurmagomedov on December 30, 2017 during UFC 219 and lost the one-sided fight by unanimous decision.

Barboza — also known as Junior — recently accepted dual citizenship as an American to now reside with his wife Bruna, his son Noah and daughter Victoria. The last time the duo fought, it was Barboza walking away with an unanimous decision inside the Octagon in 2014.

“But this time it is going to be more than survival. Both of us are at our best, and both of us have something to prove out there,” the Brazilian said.