He may be 38 years old, but Josh Barnett is still one of the top heavyweights in the world. And he proved it again on Saturday with his submission victory over Andrei Arlovski at UFC Fight Night 93 in Hamburg, Germany.
The veterans Barnett and Arlovski — who both broke into the UFC at UFC 28 in 2000, yet have never faced each other — rocked each other early, and then engaged in a back-and-forth fight into the third round of their five-round main event. In the third, Barnett was took over, taking the fight to the canvas, and finally submitting Arlovski with a short choke.
With the heavyweights showcasing both this weekend and next at UFC 203 in Cleveland, Barnett was asked in the post-fight press conference where he stood in the title picture.
"I don't think in those modalities," he said. "I think of just being able to perform at my best at any given moment, completely living in that immediate now. At this point, guys like me and Andre, we've already won belts. You've got [Alistair] Overeem, there's a slew of guys out there, of us in the heavyweight division that have proven that we are capable of being the world champion. Anywhere you put us. We're always ready to take the challenge, and it's always acceptable for us to be in the title fight"
Next weekend in Ohio Overeem will challenge Stipe Miocic for the heavyweight title, and Fabricio Werdum will take on Travis Browne in a rematch to their 2014 bout. In the span of a week, the heavyweight division will change dramatically, and Barnett could factor into fighting one of the winners, depending on how things play out.
Barnett said he understood his positioning, and also his value as a long-tenured heavyweight in the UFC.
"If Overeem got injured out of nowhere or something, Andrei, myself, whomever, there are several of us out there that can slide right in and fight in that match, and that's completely legitimate," he said. "But the biggest thing that we can control is going out there and our performances that lie in front of us. It's one at a time, and I'm sure a heavyweight championship fight could be in the future. But right now, all I was concerned with was fighting Andrei, taking him very seriously, and doing what I could to come out on top, and then moving on from there."