Former UFC Heavyweight Champion Josh Barnett scored huge with a win over Andrei Arlovski last weekend at UFC Fight Night Germany, but he hasn't taken his eyes off the top of the division.
Fightful.com spoke to Josh Barnett right before his bout with Arlovski was announced, and asked him to break down the UFC 203 main event. Barnett pointed at Stipe Miocic's pressure possibly causing a problem for title challenger Alistair Overeem, and thinks people wrote Miocic off before the Werdum bout.
"Between Stipe and Overeem, Stipe's got some good hard hands and a good wrestling game. If that's what initiates the pressure on Alistair, I could see Alistair paying the price for it. But he's a big, well-rounded guy. Kicks to knees, fighting from both stances – he could really hurt Stipe in these exchanges. He's taller as well, I believe. Stipe had trouble with Stefan Struve. Distance, reach could be an issue maybe, but almost everybody has their struggles in the ring at one time or another. Technically (Miocic over Werdum) was an upset. I felt it was much more even than people were giving it. What's more surprising was how the fight was finish. Weird enough, Stipe just back pedaled and punched him, back pedaled and punched him again. Werdum sprinted right into a fist," Barnett told us.
The manner in which Stipe Miocic won the UFC Heavyweight Championship from Fabricio Werdum didn't surprise Barnett, considering Werdum's game plan.
"Well, you know, if a big dude's running at you, Stipe's not just going to stand there! And you don't want to get tied up with him. Stipe wanted to keep distance, box more and feel out that striking exchange. Here comes this big ol' son of a b---h, well, I'm going to get out of the way. Well he's right in front of me, punch! The look on Stipe's face is like 'oh s--t, here he comes!' PUNCH! Well of course, punch. Fight's over. That was nice," said Barnett.
When I mentioned that Miocic looked surprised after capturing the Heavyweight title at UFC 198, Barnett said he probably would have been too, given the circumstance.
"Maybe!, Barnett exclaimed. "Maybe not shocked that he won, but shocked that this mofo is flying at me and I punched him, he's still flying at me, punched him again, it's over!"
Werdum also competes at UFC 203 in a bout against former Barnett foe Travis Browne. When Werdum's epic win over Fedor Emelianenko came up, Barnett was plenty excited to debunk the idea that Werdum 'baited' Fedor into the submission.
"He didn't bait anything. He got flung around, got hooked in the head, and he wasn't going to stand anymore. He didn't bait s--t! He happened to work against Fedor's mistakes in training and patterns. Fedor would have traditionally shucked the triangle off. It's what he did against Noguiera, he just throws it by. Werdum has longer legs, and it's going to be more difficult. You see that Fedor swings on him, tries to close the distance, clubbing him around the head. Werdum is all the way on his back, no way he's standing up. Fedor dives in as he's done his entire career. What happened the first time? Fedor shucked the triangle off his head, throws it by. Fedor dives in again, but couldn't clear, couldn't get it free. He's done it before. I'd actually said that if Fedor trained the way he was in the past – I don't think he was as focused and trained the way that gave him such a win streak going into that fight with Werdum. We were not seeing a guy operating at his best. It's only his own fault, you can't make excuses for that. Even at your best, it's a risky endeavor to just think you're going to shuck a guy's triangle off your head. There was no baiting, that was f--king bulls--t. He took advantage of an opening Fedor gave him, Barnett said.
Fightful.com will have full coverage of UFC 203 this Saturday, including a full, post-show Podcast