MILWAUKEE – After an 11-year world tour of MMA promotions, Josh Barnett made a seamless return to the UFC with a quick win over fellow ex-champ Frank Mir.

Barnett brutalized Mir in close with elbows, punches, and most significantly, knees, which he used to finish the fight in the first round.

The heavyweight bout was the co-main event of today’s UFC 164 event at Milwaukee’s Bradley Center. It aired on pay-per-view following prelims on FOX Sports 1 and Facebook.

The official time of Barnett’s stoppage win came at the 1:56 mark of the bout’s first frame. The crowd at the Bradley Center wasn’t particularly thrilled with the stoppage, which came after “The Warmaster” dropped Mir with a knee to the jaw that prompted referee Rob Hinds to stop the action.

Mir appeared to be knocked out by the blow, but immediately popped up and protested what he felt was a quick stoppage.

Barnett, who took control of the fight early by pressing Mir to the cage, agreed that the fight wasn’t necessarily over.

“I know I didn’t want to stop,” he said afterward. “I can tell you that much. I would rather kill him right there, or him kill me. If we have to do it again in the parking lot, I’ve got enough for everybody.”

Barnett last fought for the promotion at UFC 36 and beat Randy Couture to win the heavyweight title.

With the win, however, Barnett (33-6 MMA, 5-1 UFC) jumps into the heavyweight title picture after a run in the now-defunct Strikeforce, where he was unable to win the promotion’s heavyweight grand prix. Mir (16-8 MMA, 14-8 UFC), who obtained a therapeutic use exemption for testosterone prior to the event, is now facing three straight losses after dropping a decision to Daniel Cormier in his previous bout.

Up-to-the-minute UFC 164 results include:

For complete coverage of UFC 164, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.

John Morgan contributed to this report on-site in Milwaukee.

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