Barnett punched his ticket to the finals of Strikeforce’s
heavyweight grand prix
Saturday night by submitting hard-hitting Pride veteran
Kharitonov in the first round of their semifinal clash at U.S.
Bank Arena in Cincinnati.
Though Barnett (Pictured; file photo) would eventually trip the
Russian and take the fight to the floor for the finish, the
American looked somewhat shaky early on while standing in the
pocket with the heavy-handed Kharitonov. While Barnett appeared to
be mildly hurt by some of the Kharitonov’s punches, “The Warmaster”
asserted afterward that he was simply biding his time.
“You’ve got to [engage in the standup]. Every fight starts on the
feet. If you want to send me to K-1, I can fight over there. I’ve
sparred and trained with guys who are K-1 grand prix-level guys and
done just fine,” Barnett said in an interview with Showtime Sports
following his win. “[Kharitonov] landed a couple of OK shots. He
threw a nice jab and an uppercut, but I didn’t let any of it really
land clean. You’re going to get hit. That’s the name of the game.
[The plan was to] draw him in enough and [let him] overextend and
then take him down.”
When the opportunity presented itself, Barnett did close the gap.
The man formerly known as “The Baby-Faced Assassin” quickly
executed a beautiful outside trip and transitioned smoothly into
mount once the fight hit the canvas. From there, he pounded away
until Kharitonov turned his back.
As Barnett continued to pepper him with shots, the Russian rolled
back into Barnett’s mount in order to avoid the blows he could not
see coming. It was at this point that Barnett swiftly captured
Kharitonov’s head and arm, locking up an arm-triangle choke and
forcing him to submit at 4:28 of round one.
“You don’t just throw a left hook and then pray for it to land.
Some people do, and sometimes it works, but when you get to the top
level, you need to throw what’s appropriate when you’ve set [your
opponent] up for it,” Barnett said. “When you see him give that
opening to you, you catch that timing. I can stand with anybody,
but we’re not in there to do just one thing. It’s mixed martial
arts. How do you cut all of the strengths off of your opponent and
then put him into his [weakest area]?”
Barnett still has one more war to wage if he plans on taking home
the Strikeforce grand prix title. Just prior to Barnett’s
submission victory over Kharitonov, Daniel
Cormier blasted Antonio
Silva into unconsciousness, displaying vastly improved standup
skills in his one-sided semifinal win. Though Barnett commended the
Olympic wrestler, the catch-wrestling specialist believes he will
be too much for Cormier to overcome when the two meet in the grand
“I was very impressed with [Cormier’s] use of hooks over and under
‘Bigfoot.’ He knew he wasn’t going to beat him on reach. He knew
that jabbing was going to be difficult,” said Barnett. “I think
he’s going to come [into our fight] feeling strong and feeling
great about his standup. But it's like Cormier said: I’ve been
winning all my life. What's going to change now?”