There was a point in time when Andrei Arlovski vs Josh Barnett was a dream matchup. Both Arlovski and Barnett were atop the MMA heavyweight ladder during the mid-2000’s, as ‘The Pitbull” was the heavyweight champ in the UFC while ‘The Warmaster’ was one of the top fighters in PRIDE.
MMA fans will finally see the matchup when Arlovski and Barnett face one each other in the main event of UFC Fight Night 93 in Hamburg, Germany.
Andrei Arlovski (+130) vs Josh Barnett (-160)
Andrei Arlovski is coming off back-to-back losses, but those need to be taken with a grain of salt because they came against Stipe Miocic and Alistair Overeem. Before those two losses, ‘The Pitbull’ was a perfect 4-0 during his second stint in the UFC with two first round stoppage victories.
Arlovski is a rangy, athletic striker who has one of the most powerful right hands in the sport. There is no doubt that he relies heavily on his right hand in the striking game, as he will throw two or three rights in a row. He does have good kicks as well, but they have been largely underutilized as of late outside of the oblique kick — aka the Jackson-Wink special. Arlovski also sports solid takedown defense thanks to his sambo background that generally allows him to keep a fight standing.
The holes in Arlovski’s game have become very apparent following his past two losses. He tends to move in a straight line and has a general lack of head movement which makes him very hittable. And being hittable in the heavyweight division is dangerous.
Josh Barnett enters the bout coming off a shocking submission loss to Ben Rothwell — the first time ‘The Warmaster’ has been officially submitted since 2004.
Barnett is a well-rounded fighter who does his best work when the fight hits the mat. He excels at getting the clinch and working a trip against the cage. Once he gets on the fence he is a smart fighter who pressures his opponent into a mistake that he capitalizes on. Once Barnett gains top control, it is extremely hard to stop him. He is constantly working and adjusting position to angle for a submission. His arm triangle has become his weapon of choice recently, as his last three sub victories have come via that hold.
Barnett is sufficient on the feet, but nothing to write home about. He has solid pop, but you wouldn’t say he has one-punch knockout power. His striking is built to get his opponent backing up and into the clinch where he can really work. Barnett is also heavy on his front leg when striking, which could leave him susceptible to leg kicks.
Both men have holes in their game that aren’t likely to change given their age. Arlovski is at his best when he can sit outside the pocket and heave his heavy right hand, but can be defensive if against the cage and on the ground. Barnett would rather suffocate his opponent in close, but can struggle to get inside against fighters with good footwork. Arlovski enters the bout at +130 with Barnett coming back at -160.
Rest Of The Main Card
The co-main event sees the return of Alexander Gustafsson, who has not fought since October 2015. Gustafsson is a skilled striker who excels at using his range. The former boxing champion has some great footwork and movement we rarely see in the heavier weight classes. The biggest concern is Gustafsson’s mental state as he has been open about his struggle with motivation after some of his recent losses, which is why he has been away so long. Gustafsson will be facing Jan Blachowicz who is a talented striker with solid technique when throwing strikes — with his kicks being some of his most lethal attacks. He has a solid double-leg takedown and is usually active when in top control. However, Blachowicz is not especially adept at movement and is one of the slower fighters in the division. Gustafsson is a massive -650 favorite – the biggest on the card – with Blachowicz coming back at +425.
Ryan Bader and Ilir Latifi clash in a bout with long reaching effects in the light heavyweight division. Bader has adapted his D-1 amateur wrestling skills into a successful MMA career. He combines his technical wrestling prowess with his explosive athleticism to control his opponent and dictate the pace of the fight. Bader has made strides in his striking game, but he is still lagging defensively and is very hittable. Latifi is a tough fighter who sports some varied strengths that make him potentially dangerous in all facets. He is generally at his best when he can use his brutish strength to get a hold of his opponent and control the fight. Latifi is especially dangerous if he gains top control. Latifi has tons of power in his hands but is still raw in the striking game, which can make him easy prey for a technical standup fighter. Bader enters the fight as a -225 fave with the come back on Latifi at +175.
German-born Nick Hein will kick off the main card facing Korean Top Team product Tae Hyun Bang. Hein is a solid all around grinder but relies heavily on his physical strength. ‘Sergeant’ has black belts in judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu and would rather get his opponent on the fence so he can use trips to take it to the ground. Bang is also a grinder but gets it done more in the striking game. He uses his boxing skills to outpoint his opponent — though he does sport some power in his hands. On the ground, he will usually be outmatched though. Hein is listed as a sizable -225 fave with Bang coming in at +175.
UFC Fight Night 93: Arlovski vs Barnett
Odds as of August 26 at Bodog
- Andrei Arlovski +130
- Josh Barnett -160
- Alexander Gustafsson -650
- Jan Blachowicz +425
- Ryan Bader -225
- Ilir Latifi +175
- Nick Hein -225
- Tae Hyun Bang +175
- Peter Sobotta -115
- Nicolas Dalby -115
- Scott Askham -115
- Jack Hermansson -115
- Ashlee Evans-Smith -250
- Veronica Macedo +195
- Christian Colombo -110
- Jarjis Danho -120
- Jessin Ayari EVEN
- Jim Wallhead -130
- Leandro Issa +130
- Taylor Lapilus -160
- Leandro Silva +265
- Rustam Khabilov -350