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Josh Barnett Receives a Cakewalk in Strikeforce's Tournament Bracket



One side of this bracket is not like the other.

On the left, you have a genuinely stacked couple of bouts, with every fighter currently ranked in the top ten (I don't personally have Bigfoot that high after the beating Mike Kyle put on him for a round, but I'll yield to the wisdom of the USA Today/SB Nation Consensus Rankings).  Fedor, coming off of the only legitimate loss of his career (and more hand surgery, apparently), will take on the 6'6" Silva, while the man who dethroned him, former UFC heavyweight Fabricio Werdum, will finally get the fight he earned after submitting Emelianenko - a title shot against Alistair Overeem, the recently crowned DREAM champion and recent K-1 WGP winner.  Yes, this fight will be for five rounds as opposed to three, as I can only assume all bouts involving the Strikeforce champion will be.

Collectively, the left side of this tournament bracket has gone 10-2 in their last twelve fights, with the only losses coming by Fedor and Bigfoot to Werdum.

On the right, you have what can only be interpreted as a transparent attempt to advance Josh Barnett to the championship round.  I completely see the logic of putting the fighters and fights fans most want to see in the first round, and even arranging it so that everyone's dream fight - Fedor/Overeem - is possible ASAP.  However, if you're going to do that, then you need to have enough heavyweights (or members of any one weight class, really) to competently fill out an 8 man bracket, and this attempt right here fails miserably in that regard.


  • Josh Barnett still isn't licensed in California (it's appearing that the time and location of his fight will be up in the air until it's shopped to the right AC, though I'd LOVE to see other states standing in solidarity with CA) and, as the ball dropped in Times Square, just entered his fifth consecutive year of not fighting anyone in the top ten.  In his last three fights, he's defeated Geronimo dos Santos, Mighty Mo and Gilbert Yvel. Subpar competition, but then again, at least he didn't test positive for steroi... oh right, every fight was overseas.
  • Sergei Kharitonov (I've only seen it spelled with a "y" on HDNet) used to be one of my favorite fighters.  For a time, he was my dark horse pick to be the man that knocked off Fedor.  He also holds a 1-1 record against Alistair, being the last man to beat him in MMA (that fight apparently taught Overeem to be more selective when choosing his opponents).  However, despite a recent good showing against the objectively terrible Tatsuya Mizuno, I can't get his garbage performance against Monson out of my head, nor the cleft between how he used to look and how he looks now.  I don't even want to talk about Jimmy Ambriz (for those of you more into pro wrestling, think Brooklyn Brawler) - suffice it to say that Sergei's 2-1 in his last three.
  • Andrei Arlovski was, somehow, ranked as the #2 heavyweight in the world going into his bout with Fedor at what turned out to be Affliction's last PPV (thanks again, Josh!).  After launching the most ill-fated flying knee attempt of all time, AA was brought to Strikeforce and scheduled to fight Brett Rogers, at the time a relatively unknown HW prospect.  That loss sent Andrei's stock tumbling, and his plodding, uninspired decision loss to Bigfoot Silva last year did nothing to slow that descent.  Andrei is 0-3 in his last three fights.
  • Brett Rogers pulled off a humongous upset, blitzing Arlovski within twenty seconds of the bell ringing and earning... back to back fights against Fedor and Overeem.  Ouch.  Losing to those men, especially as a relative newcomer to the sport, is nothing to be ashamed of.  Being taken to decision by Reuben "Warpath" Villareal, however, is.  It raises a lot of flags as to Rogers' actual skill level at this point in time.  Including the Warpath decision, Rogers is 1-2 in his last three fights.
So, there you have it.  While the Fedor/Silva/Overeem/Werdum bracket is a combined 11-1 over their last three fights, Barnett's side is 6-6 - and if you remove Barnett, it's 3-6.  You can't be an MMA fan and not be excited for some of the announced and potential match ups this tournament makes possible.  However, I don't think you can know very much about MMA and not get the impression that Barnett is getting a free pass here.  Personally, I'd keep unlicensed thrice-caught steroid offenders as far away from my promotion as I could.  Then again, I'm not Scott Coker.

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