Strikeforce: "Overeem vs. Werdum" goes down this Saturday night (June 18) in what will be the continuation of the promotion's heavyweight grand prix tournament that has been on hold for several months since the MMA world saw Sergei Kharitonov hand Andrei Arlovski yet another knockout loss and
Donkey Kong Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva eliminate Fedor Emelianenko via doctor's stoppage.
Rogers comes into this bout after an unimpressive showing outside the Strikeforce banner against MMA journeyman Ruben Villareal. Before the bout, Rogers had dropped two straight to some very respectable and notable names in Alistair Overeem and Fedor Emelianenko.
Prior to those bouts, Rogers was undefeated and on the rise after a knockout victory over Andrei Arlovski.
Barnett is another matter altogether. "The Babyface Assassin" has fought in almost every mid-to-major promotion out there and more often than not, overseas in Japan. He is currently sitting on a six-fight win streak including victories over Pedro Rizzo, Jeff Monson and Gilbert Yvel. Barnett, since his stay in PRIDE, has always been considered a top level heavyweight who hasn’t consistently fought the top competition.
The winner of this bout will face Sergei Kharitonov in the semifinals. But what will be the key component in the fight between Barnett and Rogers? The submission wrestling of Josh Barnett.
For the breakdown, follow me after the jump.
Josh Barnett is a true veteran of the mixed martial arts world. With a 29-5 record and over 14 years of experience, the PRIDE FC mainstay has experience that many will never achieve.
Rogers on the other hand is very new to the game, still only fighting professionally since mid-2006 and has not fought nearly the level of opponents that Barnett has.
Experience mixed with skills will be the variable to watch out for in this fight. It won't be the power of Rogers that will dictate this bout as "Da Grim" is not the best striker or bears the most power that Barnett has seen throughout his long career.
Josh Barnett comes from a catch wrestling background. Catch wrestling as defined by Wikipedia:
Catch wrestling is a style of Folk wrestling that was developed and popularized 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.
And while many may argue that catch wrestling isn't an overly effective martial art, all one needs to do is remember Barnett is a World Jiu-Jitsu No-Gi Champion as well as a first place winner in the Gracie U.S. Nationals.
But let’s look at Barnett’s successful grappling game in mixed martial arts.
Coming off a loss in the Pride Grand Prix finals against Mirko Filipovic, Barnett was in need of a big win to bounce back. Only a month later, he was signed up to battle Judo Gold Medalist Pawel Nastula, who opened his MMA career with a rocky 1-2 record.
After being pushed to the limit in the opening rounds by Nastula, Barnett would bounce back strong late in the fight.
Before we start, let me first give a thank you to Zombie Prophet for the .gifs. Check out his site (Ironforgesiron.com) -- he has .gifs and videos of fights up faster than anyone else on the 'net.
In a fight that saw Nastula control most of the contest with takedowns and positional control, Barnett was up against the ropes in a fight he should undoubtedly win. Nastula is positioned in side control on top of Barnett, quickly Barnett uses impressive upper body strength and hip movement to roll over Nastula, causing a scramble.
Both of Nastula's legs are ripe for the picking as they sit high on Barnett's chest and face in the scramble. Barnett latches on to the right foot and quickly locks in a toe hold. He wraps his right hand under the ankle with the wrist along the Achilles heel of Nastula's foot and latches on to his other wrist -- that hand is clutching the toe area of the foot.
In a move similar in hand placement to a Kimura or Americana, Barnett torques the toes down with the hand, clutching the foot and up along the achilles with the opposite hand. With as much physical strength as Barnett possesses in his upper body, the tapout comes quick.
Come from behind victory using world class grappling!
Immediately in the clip above we see Josh Barnett gain a takedown using a very simple trip takedown sweeping the left leg up from underneath Mark Hunt. He falls into the guard of Mark Hunt briefly before he makes his way to passing into side control.
From there Barnett works for a quick Kimura. He snakes his right arm through Hunt's right arm. He has his left arm on the top of Hunt's wrist. He grabs his own left side wrist with his right arm that is snaked under and pushes Hunt's hand down while lifting up high on Hunt's arm with the other. He also torques the arm behind Hunt's body to make the hold much more difficult to escape.
This is a scenario I believe is very possible in the bout with Rogers. Above, Josh Barnett has back control of Kazuhiro Nakamura. He sinks his arms for a choke with little resistance from Nakamura and quickly submits him with a rear naked choke.
The submission itself is very simple, however these three submissions are holds that an accomplished grappler can find to be very easy when facing an inexperienced and undeveloped opponent on the ground like Rogers is. Barnett will face little resistance outside of brute strength with Rogers and if the fight should hit the ground then Kimuras, leg-locks and positional dominance leading to back control often come to the superior grappler.
While being blessed with brute strength, Rogers will play into Barnett's catch wrestling style.
If we take what we saw displayed by Rogers in the Fedor fight, it is that he relies on that power heavily without any sort of refined technique to back it up, if that is the case, instead of a normal armbar that Fedor went for, Barnett is more likely to slide under and start looking for leg-locks.
Not only is Barnett highly agile for his size, but once he latches on to something he rarely lets it go.
Unless Brett Rogers has caught up on more then a decade of grappling skills, he should at all costs attempt to keep Barnett standing where he can use his power to equalize the fight.
Anyone think he can do it? And where do you rank Barnett among the heavyweight submission fighters?
Sound off Maniacs!