"The Warmaster" made a smashing return to the Octagon -- literally -- with a technical knockout victory over the former heavyweight champion. To some mixed martial arts (MMA) fans, Mir was already in decline, hopped up on testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) and fading fast.
To others, he's still a top 10 heavyweight who's simply down on his luck.
That makes it hard to determine just where Barnett fits in the current scheme of things, based on his win this past weekend at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Already ranked at number 10 in the "official" UFC rankings (see them here), he's bound to climb a few spots by tomorrow.
But no matter where he lands, getting a UFC title shot may be easier than expected.
That's because Barnett already has friends in high places. Fellow Strikeforce veterans Fabricio Werdum and Daniel Cormier both outrank him, but "Vai Cavalo" could be eliminated (or crowned new champion) after Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos duke it out at UFC 166.
Coming off a win will also give Barnett byes against Alistair Overeem and Antonio Silva. That means the only fighter standing between him and the title is Travis Browne. Stipe Miocic is technically ahead of him at number nine, but Barnett should pass him in the new rankings after disposing of Mir.
Barnett vs. Browne for a crack at the crown sounds good to me.
It also helps that the artist formerly known as "The Baby-Faced Assassin" is a former heavyweight champion, so walking into a contender's bout -- or even a title fight in case of an untimely injury -- would spark little outrage from the MMA purists, despite having just one win since his UFC return.
But it was a biggie.
"The Warmaster" did everything right for his UFC 164 co main event. He talked a good game, then went into the Octagon and made it look easy, securing a finish in the opening frame with a stunning knee to the dome. Whether or not you think it was stopped early, at this point, is irrelevant. The record books -- assuming we don't have a four-peat -- will reflect a win.
And don't think "Hapa" wasn't watching.