It wasn't supposed to be this easy.
So how was "The Warmaster" able to gain mount against Pride veteran and fellow Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix semifinalist, Sergei Kharitonov, in just 50 seconds and earn a first round submission victory last night (September 10, 2011) in the main event of Strikeforce Grand Prix: "Barnett vs. Kharitonov."
We'll take a deeper look at the fight and discover the keys to Barnett's victory inside:
From the early onset, Barnett was working a crisp left jab and looking to find a home for his big straight right. He tried to get a little too cute by bouncing around, changing levels and using head movement but he ate some combinations from Kharitonov and decided it was time to take the fight to the ground.
Barnett didn't set up his takedown attempt with a strike, he was on first movement and ducked under a pawing left hook from the Russian. His initial single leg attempt was stuffed but he got up close with a body lock, wrapped his right leg around Kharitonov's lead left, lifted both legs into the air while pushing off with his left leg and rotated his upper body in mid air to remain on top of the falling Russian. He also immediately slipped his left leg up upon impact with the ground to take advantage of "The Paratrooper's" initial confusion and attain full mount at the 4:09 point of the first round.
Once he'd attained the dominant position, Barnett was extremely patient. He used an elbow to the face to posture up and comfortably remained there by keeping the heels of his feet underneath Kharitonov's thighs. This leverage allowed him to keep his position despite the best efforts of Kharitonov, who attempted to buck wildly on multiple occasions.
After some ground and pound started to accumulate, Kharitonov gave up his back and just turtled up whilst getting whaled on with punches to both sides of the head. This set up an absolutely beautiful finish to the fight.
Just as Kharitonov begins to turn back into giving up full mount, Barnett feels it coming and immediately gives up on his ground and pound to pounce on the isolated arm. Barnett snakes his left arm around the Russian's head, wrapping him up in an arm triangle choke or "side choke" in catch wrestling terms.
Once Barnett feels that he's got the choke locked in tight enough, he gives up his full mount, passing to side control to increase the leverage and tighten the choke considerably. Kharitonov is forced to tap out within two seconds or risk unconsciousness.
All that was left for Barnett to do was celebrate.
For Sergei Kharitonov, he's got to be disappointed. He obliterated Andrei Arlovski in the first round of the tournament with a vicious knockout and he got off to a decent start against Barnett but he simply got overwhelmed by a superior grappler. Russian Sambo is great for a lot of things: balance, striking, leg locks, etcetera, but ground positioning isn't one of them. "The Paratrooper" looked like he'd lost his chute after giving up mount so early.
If he's interested in fighting again for Strikeforce before the Showtime deal concludes, a bout with fellow main event loser Antonio Silva would not be a poor choice. Both men are powerful strikers. Fabricio Werdum would probably love an opportunity to avenge a 2005 split decision loss in Pride as well.
For Josh Barnett, this was a terrific performance, perhaps one of the finest of his career. He had absolutely smothering top control and he showed incredible hips while postured up in mount. There was no point where Kharitonov even threatened to escape the poor position. If not for eating a couple punches before the takedown, this would have been a flawless victory.
Barnett is now slated to face fellow heavyweight grand prix winner Daniel Cormier in the tournament finals. This should be a terrific match-up of extremely competent grapplers.
So what do you think, Maniacs?
Barnett sure looked terrific tonight, but will he be able to put the Olympic wrestler Cormier on his back? What did you guys think of his performance?
All gifs from Zombie Prophet at IronForgesIron.com.