Ultimate Submissions: Josh Barnett soars to the Strikeforce Grand Prix finals by submitting Sergei Kharitonov


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As a fringe contender and borderline top five heavyweight, former UFC Heavyweight Champion Josh Barnett has experienced the more up and down, roller coaster type career than many of his peers.

Coming from an era that produced outstanding heavyweight grapplers Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Ricco Rodriguez and Jeff Monson, the American Catch Wrestler has been a very dangerous foe for the past 14 years.

With a record of 31-5 (losses to Cro Cop x3, Rizzo and Nogueira) Josh Barnett has a very impressive resume. While not being active as most the past few years, Barnett has shown he is still effective at the higher levels of the sport.

Entering into the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix, many believed he would challenge one of promotion’s premier fighters such as Fabricio Werdum, Alistair Overeem and Fedor Emelianenko.

Instead, he's made his way through Brett Rogers and Sergei Kharitonov, earning submissions over both to claim his spot in the finals against Olympic wrestler Daniel Cormier.

What strength does Barnett offer this tournament and each and every opponent that comes his way? Find out after the jump.

Josh Barnett may be the best mixed martial arts fighter who has invoked a very thorough dosage of catch wrestling. In fact, he is one of the most successful in the art as well.

As a Gracie Challenge and World Jiu Jitsu Champion, Barnett has shown that catch wrestling can be successful in straight grappling and Jiu Jitsu contests and his titles as King of Pancrase and Pride Grand Prix Runner-Up show that it is just as effective in MMA.

Even though his striking skills go vastly underrated, the theme in most of his match ups end up being Barnett’s smothering, suffocating and slick skills on the mat.

Wikipedia describes Catch Wrestling as: 

Catch wrestling is a style of folk wrestling that was developed and popularised in the late 19th century by the wrestlers of traveling carnivals who incorporated submission holds, or "hooks," into their wrestling to increase their effectiveness against their opponents. Catch wrestling derives from a number different styles, the English style of Lancashire Catch-as-Catch-Can Wrestling. Irish Collar-and-elbow, Greco Roman Wrestling, styles of the Indian subcontinent such as Pehlwani and Iranian styles such as Varzesh-e Pahlavani.[

One of the bigger focuses in catch wrestling is the term "catch as catch can," which basically means catch a hold when you can. As you could imagine it goes along with the teaching that you take whatever is made available to you. As you see in Barnett’s fights he will slap on anything from an arm bar to a foot hold depending on what position he ends up on the ground.

His fight with Sergei Kharitonov this past Saturday (Sept. 10) showcased the world class catch wrestling of Barnett perfectly.

Before we start, let me first give a thank you to Zombie Prophet for the .gifs. Check out his site ( -- he has .gifs and videos of fights up faster than anyone else on the net.


Kharitonov is the superior striker in the match up as his strength has always lain in his hands even participating in K-1 kickboxing fights. He quickly attempts to swarm Barnett in attempts to land the hammer fight ending strikes he has won with several times prior.

However, as Barnett backpedals, he attempts to counter. Even though he lands his own shots, Barnett knows the odds of losing are the highest when striking.

Barnett shoots in for a double a little out of range and Sergei initially stuffs it before Josh gets his hands all the way around. Instead of exploding and forcing the issue Josh immediately starts chain wrestling, or for this posts sake he begins to catch wrestle.

While Sergei established over-hooks while sprawling Barnett is able to clasp onto a body lock. He is planted firmly around the torso of Sergei as Barnett backs him up attempting to disrupt his balance. As Sergei backpedals he is susceptible to the trip and Barnett plants his right leg behind the right leg of Sergei and drags him down to the mat with a combination of balance loss and upper body strength.

Barnett, a wizard of sorts on the ground immediately slams at an angle and uses that angle to make a swift rotation of his hips and immediately mounts Kharitonov. Barnett uses the momentum of his own body on the way down to help propel himself up and over the legs of Kharitonov before he can establish his base on the ground.


While mounted, Barnett works to establish himself as he completely dominates the flailing Kharitonov. As an arm comes up Barnett uses that "catch as catch can" mentality and drives down for an arm triangle. (For a breakdown on that submission go here).

He pins the arm with his head/neck as he isolates left arm for the hold. As you see, Barnett begins to apply pressure from the mounted position but switches to side control where the angle is much more preferable to finish the hold. Kharitonov does very little to defend and almost immediately is forced to succumb to the crushing power and slick technique of Josh Barnett.

With the win, Barnett has finished both his fights with arm-triangles and goes on to the grand prix finals riding high on the abilities of his catch wrestling.

But will he finish the job against Daniel Cormier?

Stay tuned.

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