Josh Barnett will don the German colors this weekend in Hamburg for his clash with Andrei Arlovski.
Although Barnett’s pro-wrestling influences and love for muscle cars and heavy metal is the perfect slice of Americana to get European fans buzzing, he has chosen to wear the German colors as a tribute to his roots in the country.
While he hasn’t gotten out and about in Hamburg yet, Barnett is planning to hit the town after his main event meeting at the Barclaycard Arena.
“I haven’t done much here,” he admits, speaking today from the German city.
“I walked by a metal bar the other night, but I didn’t go in. Maybe when I’m finished I’ll have a look around, but right now I can’t risk getting sick or anything like that. Don’t worry, I’ll have my time with Hamburg after the fight.”
While Barnett is wearing the national colors of the event host nation on Saturday night, some may think Arlovski will be greeted more favorably as a European.
Barnett, on the other hand, doesn’t necessarily believe the Europeans stick together when it comes to sports, and for that reason, he thinks it’s up in the air who will get the big hometown pop in the main event.
“I don’t think that Europe as a whole sees a single country as a representative of them. If I know anything about the Europeans, you’re usually sniping at each other quite a bit!
“I couldn’t imagine that a French guy or a German guy going abroad to fight against an American or Canadian would automatically have the support of the English or another European country. I think the other countries might even cheer for the North American just because.”
The American’s fair hair and boisterous physique often forces comparisons to Vikings and warlords of yesteryear. And adding fuel to those comparisons, Barnett was very medieval when describing what he enjoyed most about traveling to countries to compete.
“I love the idea of fighting in Europe. I like the idea of traveling to faraway battlefields.”
Heavyweights arguably bring about the most spectacular contests for the watching world. While the Republic of Ireland fans were dismayed as the first UFC heavyweight clash on their soil was pulled from the card on two weeks notice back in October, the Germans can look forward to the biggest stars the UFC have to offer entering the Octagon on Saturday night.
The first European card that will be broadcast as part of the BT Sports European TV rights deal, fans will be able to tune in to watch the fight at local times for a change.
Barnett explained why he believes people want to tune in to see heavyweight bouts more than any other, and why putting the division in the main event is the best way to expand the European market.
“Putting heavyweights together is a sure way to see fights getting finished. The reality is, people look at these guys and girls going into the ring and they see them as heroes of sorts.
“Seeing a guy that is half your size or around the same weight as you whoop someone versus seeing someone who has 100 lbs and 20 centimeters of height on you is completely different. I guess it’s something straight out of a storybook.”
As one of the most established grapplers in the sport, Barnett should have a clear advantage if the fight hits the ground on Saturday night. He has also shown vast improvements in his striking ability with his decision win against knockout artist Roy Nelson back in September.
With Arlovski being one of the best-known knockout artists in the bracket, Barnett explained why he will not be able to avoid testing his striking skills against the Belarusian.
“The funny thing about fighting is, whether you want to test your striking skills or the other guy wants to test his striking skills, the fact that all these fights start on the feet means you’re going to have to–even if you don’t want to,” he explained. “It’s unavoidable. I’ve just got to go out there and fight and take control.”
Jiu jitsu black belts often talk about the need to be humble and the importance of being submitted even after achieving the highest rank in the martial art.
Ben Rothwell shocked the world with his second round submission win over Barnett in January, but ‘The Warmaster’ insisted that he was never lacking humility before the contest.
“I could have gone through my professional MMA career just fine without ever having being submitted. I didn’t really lack any humility that I could have taken from my last fight.
“To be honest, doing a grappling match and doing an MMA fight is night and day. That’s why someone as great as Marcelo Garcia can go out there and be near untouchable at times on the mat. Then he gets in the ring and he’s unable to close out a match.”
Finally, Barnett gave a short and concise prediction of what he believes will happen on Saturday.
“Total victory,” he said.
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