Josh Barnett’s past indiscretions cannot be ignored when measuring him in a historical sense -- multiple positive PED tests cloud his legacy -- but no one can question the man’s desire to fight once the cage door closes behind him.
Barnett tapped fellow former Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight titleholder Andrei Arlovski with a rear-naked choke in the third round of their UFC Fight Night 93 headliner on Saturday at Barclaycard Arena in Hamburg, Germany. Arlovski bowed out 2:53 into round three, suffering the first submission defeat of his 38-fight career.
“The Warmaster” did not find the early going easy, however, as the two heavyweights dazed one another with heavy punches inside the first 20 seconds. Barnett settled in as things progressed, made Arlovski carry his weight against the fence and countered a second-round takedown from the Belarusian into top position, permanently altering the course of the bout. He climbed to mount and battered Arlovski with elbows, short punches and forearm shivers, nearly stopping him with strikes. The bell saved “The Pit Bull” but only prolonged the inevitable. Barnett picked up where he left off in round three, where he used the threat of a standing kimura to roll into an advantageous position. He mounted again and dropped punches until Arlovski surrendered his back and soon after exposed his neck to the choke.
In wake of UFC Fight Night “Arlovski vs. Barnett,” here are five matches that ought to be made:
Josh Barnett vs. Cain Velasquez: Barnett has quietly pieced together another lengthy run of sustained success, as the 38-year-old has gone 12-3 since his decision defeat to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira on New Year’s Eve in 2006. The 38-year-old Seattle native remains at the very least a viable gatekeeper in a shallow division where fighters are known to thrive well beyond their primes. Velasquez rebounded from a submission loss to Fabricio Werdum by stopping Travis Browne with second-round punches at UFC 200 on July 9 in Las Vegas.
Alexander Gustafsson vs. Ryan Bader: He failed to wow the crowd, but Gustafsson took the safest and smartest path to victory in the co-main event. There, the two-time UFC light heavyweight title challenger leaned on takedowns, ground-and-pound and positional control to smother, frustrate and defeat former KSW champion Jan Blachowicz. The win snapped a two-fight losing streak for Gustafsson, who entered the cage on the heels of back-to-back setbacks against Anthony Johnson and Daniel Cormier. Bader, meanwhile, knocked out Ilir Latifi with a second-round knee strike in their light heavyweight showcase. He has won six of his past seven bouts.
Peter Sobotta vs. Tim Means: Sobotta opened some eyes on the undercard, where the Dean Lister-trained Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt registered a one-sided unanimous decision over former Cage Warriors Fighting Championship titleholder Nicolas Dalby. He floored Dalby with a right uppercut inside the first five minutes before executing takedowns in the second and third rounds. Sobotta, 29, has recorded eight wins across his past nine appearances, a technical knockout loss to Kyle Noke his only misstep. A former two-division King of the Cage champion, Means took out Sabah Homasi with second-round punches at UFC 202 on Aug. 20.
Rustam Khabilov vs. Evan Dunham-Abel Trujillo winner: A forgotten but no less dangerous piece in the UFC’s lightweight puzzle, Khabilov posted his third straight win with a unanimous decision over Leandro Silva. The Dagestani grappler secured takedowns in the second and third rounds, applied his ground-and-pound and negated Silva’s advantages in the standup department. Khabilov now owns a 6-2 record in the UFC, with his only losses coming to former champion Benson Henderson and Adriano Martins. Dunham and Trujillo will square off at UFC Fight Night “Poirier vs. Johnson” on Sept. 17 in Hidalgo, Texas.
Andrei Arlovski vs. Mark Hunt: After enjoying a late-career renaissance, Arlovski suddenly finds himself on a three-fight losing streak. The recent skid calls into question the 37-year-old Belarusian’s future, even in a division that figures to be less hostile to his diminishing skills. Arlovski had his moments against Barnett -- he dropped “The Warmaster” to a knee within the first 20 seconds -- but nevertheless wilted to a third-round rear-naked choke. Back-to-back-to-back defeats to Barnett, Alistair Overeem and Stipe Miocic have eaten away at the equity he built through an unexpected six-fight winning streak between Sept. 14, 2013 and Sept. 5, 2015. Hunt last competed at UFC 200 on July 9, when he lost a unanimous decision to Brock Lesnar.