Josh Barnett answered a lot of questions in Milwaukee, last night.
In what was, a dominating performance and dismantling of Frank Mir at UFC 164, Barnett proved just how aggressive and powerful he is.
From the moment the bell rang, Barnett came forward and pushed Mir around. At one point in the fight, right near its (round 1) ending, Barnett looked as if he were replaying Mir’s fight with Shane Carwin, with himself cast as Carwin.
Landing nasty upper-cuts and elbows to Frank’s face, Barnett had Mir shoved-up against the fence with nowhere to go. In desperation to get away from his position Mir turned his head and Barnett, with his forearms controlling Mir’s neck, pushed Frank’s face into a heavy knee and the fight was over. With Mir’s body dropped to the canvas by the blow, referee Rob Hinds stepped in and immediately called an end to the fight.
In synopsis, Mir lacks something that Barnett seems to have in spades and that’s aggression and an ugly attitude, when it comes to fighting; as Joe Rogan said of Barnett at the outset of the fight, “if there is a difference, it may be that Josh Barnett is a little meaner.”
However, just because he’s mean in the ring and even a little surly out of it, doesn't mean that Barnett isn't a decent and honorable fighter.
Barnett has been only too willing to acknowledge that he thought the fight should have been allowed to continue and as he said to Mir in consolation at the Octagon’s center, just prior to him (Barnett) being announced as the fight’s winner “we didn’t let each other down, we fought.”
Barnett feels that Mir, like himself, is a warrior and would rather have died in the ring then take an early or bad stoppage, and simply to avoid taking punishment. Mir himself echoed those sentiments, post-fight.
All of that aside, Barnett was thrilled with the win and feels that it was a “symbolic defense” of his former UFC heavyweight title.
In speaking with Ariel Helwani, Barnett commented:
“It is…the likelihood of Frank and I matching up back then did exist…I could have easily met Frank back then, and there was a lot of people, when I was in Pride at certain points, when they would rate Frank over me, which I knew at the time, was absolute UFC bias. It had nothing to do with who was the better fighter. So, a part of me always had a little bit of a chip on my shoulder and I think Frank had a chip on his shoulder too, of hearing the comparisons. So, having this fight done is great.”
As he stated in the ring, he had wanted the fight to continue, but certainly understood why the referee stepped in and that he did so to save Mir. However, as Barnett said “Frank doesn’t want to be saved and neither would I.”
However and on the topic of “hard times”, what he’s gone through to get back to the promotion, putting it all behind him and beginning with a fresh start, particularly coming off of a big win, Barnett said:
“Hard times still exist. I think I got cheated out of knock-out-of-the-night, to be perfectly honest. So, there are hard times and fifty-thousand dollars not ending up in my little hot hands and let me tell you what, I could use fifty-thousand dollars.”
On that subject, I don’t know if he got cheated, because I counted 4 solid knock-outs on last night's card, but he does have a strong case for arguing that he was cheated out of the FOTN bonus, and it certainly was a beautiful knee. My guess is that Mendes got the bonus not because his KO was better or more dramatic than Barnett’s, but rather and because, it was Mendes’s 4th straight KO in a row and that’s not only tough to beat, but it's also hard for Dana not to reward.
In conclusion and as a Mir fan, Barnett looked great last night and I can’t wait to see his next bout.