made short work of Sergei Kharitonov
in Saturday night's Strikeforce
main event, forcing him to tap out to an arm-triangle choke in the first round and advancing to the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix final.
Barnett ate a couple of hard shots from Kharitonov in the first minute of the first round, and he quickly decided to go for a takedown, which he was able to secure without much trouble, landing in full mount. From there Barnett simply bided his time, landing punches and waiting for Kharitonov to give him an opening until he was able to sink in the choke that he wanted. Once the arm triangle was in, Kharitonov tapped quickly.
The victory was a big one for Barnett, who improves his professional MMA
record to 31-5. Barnett's MMA career once seemed to be on the rocks, as multiple positive steroid tests had American promoters and state athletic commissions wary of him. But now Barnett, a former UFC
heavyweight champion, is getting close to a return to the top.
Up next for Barnett is the Heavyweight Grand Prix final with Daniel Cormier
, the former Olympic wrestler who also advanced to the Grand Prix final on Saturday night.
"I think I'm going to take down an Olympian," Barnett said when asked about Cormier. "I think Cormier is a great opponent. He's a guy who has competed at the highest level of athletics and I'm going to have to train really hard for him."
Cormier vs. Barnett should be a great fight. Both men took big steps forward in the heavyweight division on Saturday night.