Commentary

Josh Barnett keeps eyes on the prize

Experienced heavyweight suffocates Brett Rogers, shows why he's an MMA force

Updated: June 19, 2011, 12:22 PM ET
By Master Tesfatsion | ESPNDallas.com

DALLAS -- Another day, another body.

What has become Josh Barnett's MMA motto was certainly on display Saturday at the Strikeforce World Grand Prix Heavyweight Tournament at American Airlines Center. Using his well-rounded skills and experience, Barnett made Brett Rogers his latest victim.

[+] EnlargeBrett Rogers vs Josh Barnett
Ric Fogel for ESPN.comJosh Barnett used his experience and wrestling prowess to defeat Brett Rogers at the AAC.
"Brett was a tough opponent," Barnett said. "I hope he's around for a long time knocking people out. However, tonight was my night and I'm here to win this tournament. After I win the whole thing, I'm coming after the heavyweight championship."

Coming into the match, the former UFC champion had participated in 21 more professional MMA fights than Rogers. Barnett cleverly used his veteran ability to play off his strengths and wrestle with Rogers, leading to a tap-out decision in the second round.

Barnett (30-5, 1-0 SF) started the match early in the first round with a seismic takedown, lifting Rogers above his head before planting him on his back.

"You go in there and you have a strategy," Barnett said. "We stuck with it for the most part but once I got on top of him, it became a matter of also making him drown underneath me. Taking his wind, taking his spirit, taking his energy and doing it without any sort of injury."

Rogers could never get back on his feet as a determined Barnett avoided trading punches with the heavy-handed Rogers. Rather, Barnett grappled with Rogers in a number of different positions while maintaining control of the fight.

It led to a change of mindset for Rogers as he went for an early takedown on Barnett in the second round. Barnett regained his composure and took down Rogers again early, leading to an arm triangle choke and the decision 1:17 seconds into the round.

"It's that much more difficult to fight a guy on the feet if you've got to worry about getting put on your back too," Barnett said. "This is MMA. You've got to take advantage of all the opportunities and all the weapons that you have. The more things they've got to worry about, the better off it's going to be for you."

Barnett's performance was one of the most impressive of the night and seemed effortless, showing that his name should not be overlooked in the Strikeforce World Grand Prix Heavyweight Tournament. The baby-faced assassin, 33, still wants to prove he's the best. Barnett thinks he can win this tournament, and the competitive flame within him will not allow him to think otherwise.

"This is my opportunity to go out there and explain myself as one of the best heavyweights that's ever walked the Earth," he said. "I know it but people want to see it. They want me to prove it. Fine, as long as you can line people up against me I'm going to keep taking them out. That's my job. I'm born and bred to fight."

Master Tesfatsion is a reporter for ESPNDallas.com.

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