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Dundas: While Josh Barnett likely didn’t do quite enough during 2013 to be considered for anybody’s ubiquitous year-end awards, his return to the UFC has so far been as successful as it was unlikely.
Barnett’s first-round TKO of Frank Mir at UFC 164 in August reminded those who hadn’t followed his career of tramping around the independent circuit the past few years that he’s still a top-10 heavyweight. In fact, he only has one loss during nearly the last seven years, falling to Daniel Cormier in the final of the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix in May of 2012.
And yeah, admittedly, there are a lot of Mighty Mo Siligas, Geronimo dos Santoses and Nandor Guelminos on Barnett’s record during that run, but his last few outings have shown he still has the goods to compete with the modern breed of 265-pound fighters.
Browne certainly fits that bill, as the 6'7", Greg Jackson-trained monster figures to be bigger, younger, more athletic and better rounded. Still, Barnett has that wicked top-game submission arsenal, and at some point during the first round, he’s going to manage to drag Browne to the mat.
From there, he’ll lock on some crazy concession hold heretofore unseen anywhere besides those Erik Paulson catch wrestling videos you can call up on YouTube. Or, heck, maybe he’ll just settle for a good old-fashioned rear-naked choke.
Whatever the methodology, Barnett takes this one via first-round tappage. Bolt Thrower T-shirts for everyone!
Snowden: Randy Couture fought at a very high level well into his 40s. At a time when most men are growing an impressive belly and losing most of their hair, Couture managed only the latter.
Couture's success was great for his legion of fans—but it has also led to unrealistic expectations. Longtime MMA fans are starting to learn some hard truths about their favorite musclebound giants. First and foremost?
There is only one Randy Couture.
The great Fedor Emelianenko, a fighter so far ahead of his time it seemed he'd never falter, let alone fall, toppled against Fabricio Werdum and "Bigfoot" Silva. He's now a retired Russian hero, rocking ugly sweaters, eating ice cream cones and razzing polar bears.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, the chocolate to Fedor's vanilla, has turned into the kind of fighter fans dread watching. "Big Nog" forces fans to cross their fingers and simply hope that he walks out of the cage on his own power. Winning and losing is immaterial; we just want to see him survive one more night.
Frank Mir, their UFC equivalent, has lost three in a row. One more and he's bound for a very tough talk in Dana White's office about his future as a professional athlete.
You'll note the only name missing from his generation's heavyweight four horsemen is that of Josh Barnett. Sixteen years ago, Barnett walked into the ring for the first time. Now 36, it's illogical to suspect Barnett will do what his peers could not—stay relevant as their age crept even with their jean size.
Barnett is already walking the same path Nogueira, Fedor and Mir have already trod. He just doesn't know it yet. Travis Browne, however, will be there to kindly help him on his way. Look for a brutal knockout at UFC 168, with Josh Barnett staring up at the lights and contemplating, perhaps for the first time, what he's going to do with the rest of his life.