Josh Barnett’s top game could be a problem for Brett Rogers. | Photo: Scott Clark
Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Quarterfinal
Josh Barnett (29-5) vs. Brett Rogers (11-2)
The Matchup: Once one of the game’s best heavyweights and a rare big man with a dynamic bottom game, Barnett returns stateside to fight for the first time since January 2009, when he grinded down Gilbert Yvel under the Affliction banner. Always crafty on the mat and with an improved standup game, Barnett is an imposing blend of experience and know-how.
Rogers, meanwhile, probably had the most disparate pair of back-to-back performances in recent MMA history. Seen as an unheralded, sacrificial lamb to Fedor Emelianenko before giving the legend a hellaciously tough fight in defeat, Rogers became an instant fighter to watch off the heels of his November 2009 performance.
Inactive until May 2010, Rogers was summarily dominated and taken out in 3:40 by Alistair Overeem in a brutal mismatch. Since then, he took a decision over veteran trialhorse Ruben Villareal to get back in the win column.
Fighters have good days and bad days, but off the heels of these two showings, Rogers still has a lot to prove, precisely because he showed so much and then so little in the two high-profile bouts of his career.
Rogers is big at 260-plus pounds and has heavy hands, but Barnett is wily enough to know when to close the gap and tie up, at which point he can take it to the ground and work to suffocate Rogers while improving position. Rogers’ bottom game looked fairly decent against Emelianenko, as he even swept the usually immovable Russian; the standup might favor Rogers in the power punching department, but Barnett is good enough at using movement and the occasional kick to keep the Minnesotan off balance.
The Pick: Barnett’s experience is the difference in this fight, as he works clinically and ruthlessly en route to a second-round victory.
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