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Josh BarnettIn the UFC 164 heavyweight co-main event, two former champions squared off as Josh Barnett returned to the Octagon to face Frank Mir.

It was Barnett’s first fight for the UFC since 2002 in front of the crowd at Milwaukee’s Bradley Center.

Mir entered the much-anticipated bout with Barnett coming off back-to-back losses to Daniel Cormier and former champion Junior dos Santos. The Las Vegas native moved out of his comfort zone in Sin City to set up shop at the famed Jackson-Winkeljohn camp in Albuquerque, N.M., to prepare.

Entering the bout, Barnett looked to prove that he belonged with the division’s best after making his name overseas and in Strikeforce, while Mir wanted to prevent his first three-fight losing streak and hush rumors of retirement if he were to lose.

Mir made his way to Octagon smiling, briefly stopped to kiss family sitting cageside, and appeared to be in a great place mentally.

However, Barnett would be the heavyweight walking away smiling with the victory once the action ended and it didn’t take long.

Barnett made a triumphant return to the UFC by pressing Mir against the cage and controlling the action from the clinch, where he eventually finished the fight with a crushing right knee.

Immediately following the referee stoppage, Mir popped up, protesting the result. UFC president Dana White soon followed suit on Twitter by stating, “(Expletive) ridiculous stoppage!!!! The guys with experience make mistakes. That guy had no business being in the Co Main event!”

Regardless, Barnett used the clinch to engage with dirty boxing and a devastating knee that dropped Mir, which prompted a halt in the action from referee Rob Hinds.

Options are plenty for Barnett going forward in the division, while Mir has dropped three-consecutive fights for the first time of his career.

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