Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight champion Josh Barnett is one of the most experienced mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters in the game today. Having fought professionally since 1997, Barnett has basically seen it all and always has an interesting and educated perspective when it comes to discussing upcoming match ups.
Barnett, who is a colossal fan of the sport as well as a fighter, is one of the most knowledgeable people in the world when it comes to MMA. And with a return to the UFC potentially in the near future, Junior dos Santos and Cain Velasquez, who face off at UFC 155 for the UFC heavyweight championship of the world this Saturday night (Dec. 29, 2012), are two fighters the 35-year-old could end up sharing the cage with sooner than later.
Just days prior to the UFC 155: "Dos Santos vs. Velasquez 2" event in Las Vegas, Nevada, "The Warmaster" dropped by Talking Monkey Studios to join UFC color-commentator Joe Rogan on "The Joe Rogan Experience Podcast."
With one of the most significant fights in the history of heavyweight MMA on the horizon, Barnett shared his opinion on the rematch, starting with the importance of each man keeping the fight in their realm -- dos Santos on the feet and Velasquez on the ground.
"Here's the deal - Cain doesn't get his takedown game going with his distance on his striking early on, and Junior's dictating pace and distance on stopping the takedown, it's going his way. Bombs away, he's going to take him out. I don't think he's going to one-punch him again cause he's not normally -- he's not normally a one-punch guy as you've seen, but his accuracy is very high and he'll pick Cain apart. If Cain can get his takedown game, his timing on fighting Junior to initiate and score the takedown early on, if he can get it going and be successful with it, he can win that fight."
In the first meeting between dos Santos and Velasquez back at UFC on FOX 1 in Nov. 2011, dos Santos won via knockout in just 64-seconds, leaving much to be desired when it came to Velasquez's performance.
Every fight starts standing, and on that night 13-months ago in Anaheim, Velasquez was never able to get anything going in terms of striking or grappling, and, as a result, was abruptly knocked out.
If Velasquez has any hopes of winning the rematch, Barnett believes he can't hang back and let dos Santos work his striking. He must attack the Brazilian where he is strongest -- on the feet -- and capitalize on a mistake in order to drag the fight to the mat. Should Velasquez find success taking the fight to the ground, Barnett believes the ex-titleholder will build momentum and have the confidence in his game needed to win the fight.
"People are always so afraid of fighting [dos Santos] on the feet, it's like what we talked about with [Mirko] ‘Cro Cop,' you know, Fedor [Emelianenko] wasn't going to take him down unless he got in his face and slugged it out, nope. Junior's got great feet which is tough, but Cain can do it. Cain, if he's smart enough, and if he can get the right mindset, he can put Junior on his back. And once it starts it can continue. You get that timing down and all of a sudden you pick up on that shoulder movement before that jab comes and you fake out an overhand right and then you got right into the takedown, you pull him forward with some strikes, he thinks it's an exchange and then boom you get him on his back."
Rogan brought up a point many fans have been talked about going into the rematch, and that is wondering what would happen if Velasquez takes dos Santos into the latter rounds and truly puts the champion's endurance to test. Barnett, though, says Velasquez's success in the fight won't be dependent on how long it goes; on the contrary, it all comes down to securing those critical takedowns.
"He's still not going to be successful unless he gets that takedown, that timing down. If he doesn't get that timing down it won't even matter."
To hear Rogan and Barnett discuss MMA and several other worldly topics, check out the complete episode of The Joe Rogan Experience Podcast right here.
Do you agree with Barnett's assessment of the fight? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments section below.