With close to 100 fights and four decades of experience between them, it’s amazing that Arlovski and Barnett haven’t ever fought before. They nearly fought for Affliction in 2008, but the fight came apart, finally coming back together in Germany all these years later.
After waiting so long for the fight to happen, neither man wasted any time before engaging. In the first 30 seconds of the fight, Barnett landed a right hand that wobbled Arlovski, but the Belarusian returned fire, wobbling Barnett. They weren’t done yet, though, as Barnett again hit Arlovski, who staggered backward.
Without a finish coming from that opening exchange, Barnett began to employ a strategy of continually clinching Arlovski and pressing him to the fence, using a 20-pound advantage to make Arlovski carry his weight.
Although Arlovski made the first round a close one with some sharp punch combinations, Barnett’s clinch work laid the foundation for the rest of the fight.
In round two, Barnett ate a few more punches in the exchanges with Arlovski, but again employed his clinching strategy. Arlovski tripped Barnett to the canvas late in the round, but Barnett reversed position as they hit the canvas, immediately moving into full mount, landing numerous punches and elbows, continuing to wear on his opponent.
The two had some entertaining exchanges to begin round three, but an eye poke that went unnoticed by the referee sent Barnett turning away, and he ate a hard right hand. Not giving up, Barnett locked up with Arlovski, grabbing his left arm in a Kimura hold, and took him to the canvas.
Barnett went to work from half guard, continuing to attack the left arm, and eventually moved to full mount. Arlovski turned to all fours to try and escape, but Barnett immediately took his back and sunk a rear-naked choke for the tap.
It was a hard-fought battle between two of the sport’s pioneers, but Barnett would come out on top.
“Andrei and I came here to give you guys a great fight. We went for the finish every time. Please give it up for Anrei Arlovski,” Barnett said after the fight, sharing the center of the Octagon with his opponent.
Barnett looked as good as he has in recent memory in the victory, but as he well admits, it wasn’t as easy as the finish made it look.
“The main thing was getting past the physical level. Andrei was strong. He was making me work harder than I wanted to.”
— #UFCHamburg (@ufc) September 3, 2016