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Josh Barnett


An MMA Profile of one of the Best Heavy Weight Mixed Martial Arts Fighters in the World

By Robert Rousseau, ExtremeProSports.com
Not many mixed martial arts fighters, let alone people, possess the sense of humor of Josh Barnett. He's even funny after a loss.

"I am not an animal," Josh Barnett said in a hysterical attempt to replicate the Elephant Man after being defeated by Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic in the finale of PRIDE's recent Open Weight Grand Prix (PRIDE: Final Conflict Absolute). At the time, his battered and bruised likeness wasn't that far off the Elephant Man's after consecutive battles with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Cro Cop on the same night.

Barnett's sarcasm and blunt personality is part of what makes this former UFC Heavyweight Champion special. So is his fearless and steadfast approach. Soon after the loss to Cro Cop, and despite the pounding he'd taken, Barnett was asked about his possible participation in PRIDE's next event (The Real Deal - in America). To this, he said the following.

"Yeah, I still intend on that. Most of the injuries are superficial. . . I think with good chiropractic, and diet, and massage, and whatnot, I can be ready to go for October twenty- first."

Whatnot? With the event only a little more than a month away and him bruised to the hilt, Barnett was speaking of whatnot. Was he kidding?

No; he wasn't. See, here's thing about Josh Barnett. He sure does kid a lot, but not when it comes down to real fighting. This is why he's one of the best heavyweight mixed martial arts fighters in the world today.

Josh Barnett Before Pride

Josh Barnett was born on November 10, 1977 in Seattle, Washington. He stands at six- foot- three- inches and weighs in at 250 pounds. His overall MMA record is 19- 4 (12 submissions, 4 (T)KO's).

Barnett's mixed martial arts career started with very little fanfare on 1/11/97 at the age of 19, defeating Chris Chamos via submission. That fight marked the first of seven straight wins to open his MMA career, including three in one night against Juha Tuhkasaari (submission), John Marsh (submission), and Bobby Hoffman (decision) to win the SuperBrawl 13 Heavyweight Tournament.

Still, it took submitting Dan Severn on February 8, 2000 before the UFC came calling.

When Josh Barnett first stepped into the UFC's Octagon on 11/17/000 against Gan McGee, he was only 23 years old. The Babyface Assassin won that fight via TKO.

Of course, fighting is a learning experience like no other, and Josh Barnett is as subject to the learning curve as anyone else. Along with this, he was knocked out in his next UFC appearance by world class striker, Pedro Rizzo. Barnett could've folded then like so many have before him.

But he didn't.

Instead he rattled off three straight wins in the UFC against Semmy Schilt (submission), Bobby Hoffman (submission from strikes), and UFC legend and Heavyweight Champion, Randy "The Natural" Couture (TKO).

With his win against Couture, Barnett became the youngest UFC Heavyweight Champion ever at a ripe 24 years of age.

Unfortunately, soon after his victory over Couture, Barnett lost the belt in controversial fashion, testing positive for anabolic steroids. He was then temporarily suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

Unable to fight in America due to the suspension, Barnett started working overseas. Specifically, he got in with the New Japan Pro Wrestling Organization (NJPW). In addition, he continued to compete in overseas MMA events in the NJPW, Pancrase, K-1, and Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye organizations, winning five straight matches between these outfits (all by stoppage). Then PRIDE came calling on 10/31/04. The opponent - Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic.

Josh Barnett's Training Techniques and Fighting Style

Josh Barnett's grappling base comes from catch- wrestling. Though catch-wrestling does have a rather complicated lineage, aspects of it can be traced back to both Europe (collar and elbow, catch-as-can submission wrestling) as well as Asia (Jujutsu). Still, most understand catch-wrestling to be the kind of professional wrestling that was practiced in the late 1800's and early 1900's in carnivals across the United States. Simply put, the art allowed carnival wrestlers to challenge locals in town because of the submissions it taught (sometimes referred to as "hooks")..

Many fighting styles have been influenced by catch-wrestling including shootfighting and Brazilian Jiu- Jitsu. Beyond that, MMA greats like Frank Shamrock and Kazushi Sakuraba have strong backgrounds in the art.

The reason why catch-wrestling influenced so many styles is because it was shown rather early on to be a highly formidable martial art. Back in 1914, Ad Santel, a catch-wrestler, defeated several famous Japanese Judo black belts; in essence, this proved the art's worth to many, especially those studying martial arts in Japan.

Punctuating this, Mitsuyo Maeda also trained extensively in catch-wrestling. Maeda was the man that originally taught Carlos Gracie (known as the inventor of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu). Hence, catch-wrestling's influence on Gracie Jiu- Jitsu.

So what's the difference between Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and catch-wrestling? Likely a lot more than can be written here.

Still, the guard is taught in much more detail in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Along with this, according to Josh Barnett in an MMA Weekly interview, catch-wrestling is a more aggressive style that "doesn't really believe in laying back and trying to wait for opportunities to present themselves. You make your opportunities; you force your opponents to do what you want them to do."

In terms of specific training techniques, Josh Barnett, like Fedor Emelianenko, has engaged in high-altitude workouts. For example, he got ready for PRIDE's Final Conflict Absolute at Big Bear (a mountainous area, 7,000 feet up). When at Big Bear, Barnett does mountain running and gym training.

Of course, Barnett trains in grappling, stand-up, and everything in between as all MMA fighters do these days.

More recently, Barnett has hooked up with leg lock specialist Erik Paulson and the Orange County (California) Wrestling Team. Normally, Barnett trains out of Anaheim, California.

Josh Barnett is a highly aggressive fighter. In terms of his stand up, he has good technical striking skills and nice power. On his feet, Barnett is best when he's able to crowd fighters and get inside, as he did in his second battle with Mirko Cro Cop. Beyond that, Barnett has a good jaw and is a very tough hombre.

Still, his bread and butter is on the ground.

Barnett is extremely strong and has top-tier takedowns and takedown defense. He is able to play the wrestling game (ground control and positioning) as well as the submission game with the best of them. In fact, an argument can be made that he would've submitted Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira - a man known for his prowess with submissions - if he hadn't run out of time in their recent match (Barnett had Nogueira caught in a knee bar at the bell).

Barnett's 12 submission victories would seem to say it all on that front.

Josh Barnett Pride Fighting

Though some questioned Barnett's conditioning when he first started fighting in PRIDE, his cardio seems to have improved tremendously since that time.

Unfortunately for Barnett, his PRIDE career started with an injury. After taking Mirko Cro Cop down in his initial PRIDE fight, he suffered a shoulder injury that required surgery (the injury forced him to tap). Nearly a year later, he got another shot at Cro Cop. Though Barnett fought valiantly and showed a level of stand up skills that no one really knew he had, he lost a unanimous decision.

Then he went on a tear, defeating Kazuhiro Nakamura (submission), Aleksander Emelianenko (submission), Mark Hunt (submission), and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (split decision), before losing once again to Mirko Cro Cop via tap out (due to injury).

As he promised, Barnett will be fighting on the first ever PRIDE card in America on 10/21/06. His opponent will be Judo fighter, Pawel Nastula.

The best thing about Josh Barnett would appear to be his age. People tend to forget that he's only 28 years of age. In other words, believe it or not, The Babyface Assassin has a lot of years left in him to improve.

A scary proposition for PRIDE heavyweights everywhere.

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