MMA Fight: UFC Fight Night 93
Key Matches: Andrei Arlovski vs. Josh Barnett
When: Saturday, September 3, 2016
Time: 9:00PM EST
Where: Barclaycard Arena, Hamburg, Germany
TV: Fox Sports 1
by Loot, MMA Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Andrei Arlovski, (+160), 25-12 (17 KOs, 3 Submissions) vs. Josh Barnett, (-210), 34-8 (8 KOs, 20 Submissions)
Over/Under: Over 1.5 (-185), Under 1.5 (+145)
Former UFC heavyweight champions Andrei Arlovski and Josh Barnett will battle in the main event of UFC Fight Night 93. Both men are former heavyweight champions from bygone eras, while still managing to remain pertinent even in 2016. Arlovski, 37, reigned in 2005-06, with the 38-year old Barnett winning the belt in 2002, later stripped for testing positive for a banned substance. But both Arlovski and Barnett are in need of a win. In fact, the loser of this fight will be close to the end. The stakes are pretty high for these old ex-champs.
Arlovski has dropped his last two fights, though in losing to Stipe Miocic and Alistair Overeem, he fell to the best. Prior to those two defeats, Arlovski has put together a 6-fight win streak where he managed to resuscitate his career. Arlovski's career has been bizarre, with several different incarnations—the feared striker who was champion to the brittle-chinned brawler who lost 4 straight fights from 2009-11, the resurrected fighter who beat a slew of contenders upon his return, to the now-struggling veteran looking for positive foothold.
Since returning to the UFC, Arlovski beat Brendan Schaub, Bigfoot Silva, Travis Browne, and Frank Mir, before his recent skid. So he has shown that he can hang at this level, though he is probably no longer capable of beating the really elite big men in the UFC. If anything, he has more good recent positive results to boast of than his opponent Barnett.
Barnett has fought just twice since 2013, beating Roy Nelson and losing to Ben Rothwell by submission in January. He is 2-2 since returning to the UFC after a sabbatical of over a decade from the organization after two positive drug tests in 2001-02. He was still able to compile a compelling list of wins competing in other organizations. He is a true fighter, also thriving in world-class Jiu-Jitsu and grappling competitions over the years. And his list of victims reads like a who's-who of heavyweight fighters from the past decade-plus.
But there is understandable pessimism as to how Barnett fits in with this era. He holds no wins over fighters who are really still relevant in 2016. At first thought, you almost have to assume that his window of success has passed. But shoveling dirt on Barnett now could be a mistake. First of all, a loss here makes it hard to justify continuing for a winning fighter like Barnett, as he would be so far in the back of the pack he would need a telescope to see the front. And you're still talking about one of the more-skilled fighters to ever fight at heavyweight—a man with 20 submission wins among his 28 finishes. And his loss to Rothwell in January was the first time he had ever fallen victim to a submission hold in his career. For those looking to label Barnett "spoiled goods," they certainly have their ammunition.
Arlovski isn't getting a ton of respect by looking at the betting odds. Sure, he lost two straight, but that was against two men who will be fighting for the title at UFC 203. In other words, he lost to the best in the UFC. And just because he can't beat the best doesn't mean he doesn't fit in here against the likes of Josh Barnett, who is a few levels removed from the elite at this point.
So what gives on these odds, with Barnett a better than 2-to-1 favorite? He's older than Arlovski with less recent success against a high-level of opponent. And Barnett thrives in submissions, but Arlovski has never been submitted before. He's been knocked out 9 times, which is a cause for alarm. But Barnett has only one KO win since 2010. By the same token, with Arlovski relying on KOs a lot, Barnett has only been stopped twice in a career that spans nearly 20 years.
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Barnett likely has more routes to victory. And he's probably the more steady and dependable MMA fighter of the two. But it's been a while since he was a consistently-winning fighter and there is understandable doubt surrounding his overall viability in 2016. With all the MMA fights, the grappling and Jiu-Jitsu tournaments, and pro wrestling in Japan, he's really been through the ringer. He was knocked out for only the second time in his career a few fights back by Travis Browne and put in a fight-ending submission hold in his last fight. These aren't things we're accustomed to seeing from Barnett.
A salient case for victory can be presented for both combatants in this matchup. And it can be done with what seems to be equal voracity. In other words, there is something about this fight that rings of a toss-up, or at least pretty close to it. And when one is torn to pick a winner in a fight and one fighter is getting decent underdog odds, it's hard not to take him. I'm going with the "upset" and taking Arlovski.
Loot's Pick to Win the Match: I'm betting on Andrei Arlovski at +160. Did you know... that you could be wagering on fights at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying inflated odds with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!