Josh Barnett decisively beat Andrei Arlovski yesterday at UFC Fight Night in Germany just past the mid-way point of the scheduled five rounds with a rear naked choke (aired in the U.S. live on UFC Fight Pass on Saturday afternoon and available on demand). The win makes him 12-3 since 2008 and 3-2 since returning to UFC in 2013. Arlovski may have been the toughest test he’s had since 2008.
Although he’s turning 39 later this year, a heavyweight title shot is a consideration after this win, which puts him in the conversation for the no. 5 contender position in the rankings. Barnett isn’t preoccupied with lobbying for a future title shot.
“I don’t think in those modalities,” he said at the UFC Fight Night press conference yesterday. “I think of just being able to perform at my best any given moment completely living in that immediate now. The biggest thing we can control is our performances that lie in front of us one at a time. You know, I’m sure that a heavyweight championship fight could be in the future, but right now all I was concerned about was fighting Andrei and doing what I could to come out on top.”
In the post-fight press conference, Barnett extended the graciousness he showed his opponent Arlovski in the Octagon after submitting him.
“It’s not just about winning and losing here,” he said, when asked about what it meant to beat Arlovski. “We [both] have wins and losses against all-time greats, so it’s not so trivial, you know what I mean? It’s not like we’re fighting the Bum of the Month Club. We’re going out there and fighting the best the world can provide, so if we lose a few, well, that happens. But who else besides us is capable of going out there and meeting that kind of opposition time and time again?”
Cervantes Analysis: Barnett was able to withstand the early onslaught from Arlovski and able to finish the fight in impressive fashion. Even though he has alternated wins and losses in his last four contests, the heavyweight division has long been one of the least stacked and most unstable of divisions with respect to how often the title is won and lost. Being ranked in the top 10 and putting on a strong performance against a fellow seasoned veteran like Arlovski proves Barnett still belongs in the Octagon and I could definitely see him stringing a few more wins together for a shot at the title.
[MMATorch editor Wade Keller contributed to this report.]