Josh Barnett made a successful Strikeforce debut last against Brett Rogers, claiming a second round submission win to progress to the semi-finals of the heavyweight GP.
Barnett was dominant on the mat from early in the fight, but his relatively slow pace in the opening round drew some boos from the Dallas crowd. Afterwards in an interview with MMAfighting’s Ariel Helwani he explained that it was all part of the plan.
“You know what, it wasn’t the most exciting, but in terms of where I was at, it was perfect,” Barnett says.
“Basically after I put him on the ground, started feeling his energy underneath me I knew he had a lot of oomph, a lot of guts, a lot of gusto so any opening, any transition, any big opening was going to be met with a lot of explosive force. We could then end up in some scrambles, expend energy I don’t want to, or it’s not neccessary.
“So, get him bucking, get him using that energy, and I have quite heavy hips which is a very common staple of ‘catch as catch can’ [wrestling]…you know, not just wearing people out with strikes or submissions or holds, but with your overall body positioning. So I just put that crush on him the whole fight, or at least that first round, and I could hear his labored breathing, his wind, his energy, everything just collapsing, so I knew come the second round he was going to be thinking more about, ‘don’t drown on the ground’, and then I could start opening up and hitting him with stuff.”
Here’s notes on what else Barnett had to say post-fight…
– Barnett has officially ditched his ‘Baby-Faced Assassin’ moniker stating that he’s too old to carry that off and will now be known simply as ‘Warmaster’, a nickname given to him by the British metal band ‘Bolt Thrower’.
– Rogers tapped a little quicker than expected when Barnett began to set up the arm triangle, which he puts down to the fighters physicality and big shoulders making his airwaves close off quicker rather than anything special he was doing with the hold.
– Barnett says he has a busy schedule as he still has to compete in Japanese pro-wrestling organization IGF before his next Strikeforce fight, but he says that will ensure he doesn’t slack off and he feels he can juggle both effectively.
– He says that he’s just trying to enjoy this moment in his career while it exists and is having a great time.
– As for his next opponent Sergei Kharitanov, Barnett feels he looks as good as he’s ever seen him in his victory over Andrei Arlovski in the quarter-finals, and he’s excited by that as it will only help him to elevate his own status when he defeats him.
– Barnett expects to fight Kharitanov in the fall and says that’s good for him as he could use the extra time to prepare.
– Somewhat surprisingly Barnett praises Fabricio Werdum for his bizarre performance against Alistair Overeem tonight, noting that his constant failed takedown attempts and guard pulling attempts appeared to tire the champion and left the dangerous striker failing to plant his feet and really get his power into his punches.
– He expects to face Overeem in the final, but remains convinced that he will defeat him to become the tournament champion.
Watch the full interview below.