UFC 168 Fight Breakdown: Josh Barnett (-190) vs. Travis Browne (+165)

Josh_Barnett One of the featured attractions at UFC 168 is a heavyweight fight between Josh “The Warmaster” Barnett and Travis “Hapa” Browne. The current betting line for the fight at Several Bookmakers lists Barnett as a -190 betting favorite (bet $190 to win $100), while Browne is a +165 underdog (bet $100 to win $165). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas originally opened up Barnett at -190 and Browne at +150, meaning the betting public is split on who they like in this fight. Personally, though, I have a strong lean here, and it’s with “The Warmaster” to pick up a second win in his return to the Octagon. Here’s why. Barnett (33-6) is the former UFC champion and one of the most consistent heavyweight fighters to ever compete in mixed martial arts. The 36-year-old American has career victories over notable fighters such as Mark Hunt, Frank Mir, Randy Couture, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Pedro Rizzo, and Sergei Kharitonov. In fact, in the last seven years, he has only one loss, a decision setback to Daniel Cormier. Barnett wins his fights by using his excellent wrestling to pin opponents up against the fence and then get them to the ground, where he is one of the most efficient heavyweight BJJ artists out there, capable of pulling off arm-triangle chokes with his trademark strength on the ground. In the striking department, Barnett is very solid as well and in his last fight he TKOed Mir with a knee. Additionally, he has one of the best chins in the history of heavyweight MMA, having only been knocked out once, by Rizzo all the way back in 2011. I think the fact Barnett has fought in the sport for so long and against so many great fighters with so much success proves he’s an elite fighter, and despite being 36 years of age, it appears as though he is in his fighting prime right now. And that could spell trouble for Browne. Browne (15-1-1) is one of the top up-and-coming heavyweight fighters on the UFC roster. The 31-year-old is an excellent striker with vicious power and his long, rangy attacks allowed him to score a front kick KO on Alistair Overeem in his last fight at UFC Fight Night 26, which was by far the biggest win in his career. As well, Browne also holds career victories over Gabriel Gonzaga, Stefan Struve, and Chad Griggs. In fact, he has only lost once in his career, a surprising TKO loss to Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva at UFC on FUEL TV 5 that came after he tore his hamstring in that fight. Other than that, he has only really been in trouble against Overeem, who nearly finished him before gassing out, and Cheick Kongo, who he went to a draw with at UFC 120. He doesn’t have tons of holes in his game, but one of the flaws that I’ve noticed with Browne is that his biggest problems come when his opponents push him up against the cage wall like Overeem, Bigfoot, and Kongo did, and against a master of that aspect of the sport like Barnett, that’s not a good combination for Browne in this spot. I see Barnett being able to press Browne up against the fence like Kongo did at UFC 120, but unlike Kongo, Barnett won’t grab Browne’s shorts and won’t be deducted a valuable point on the scorecards. I see Browne getting outmuscled along the fence for 15 minutes here and beaten up with dirty boxing, with Barnett possibly even getting Browne down to the floor with a few takedowns to score some extra points and, possibly, even get a submission win. I capped Barnett at -200, so I see some value in him at -190. Although I like Browne, I just believe Barnett is a far superior mixed martial artist and I definitely think he wins a decision here, if not get a submission win. I still don’t think I’d play Barnett -190 straight, but there are definitely some other fighters on this card who I would consider putting him into a two-team parlay with. I also like Barnett via three-round decision as a prop, as it’s currently paying out +413, which I believe is tremendous value as I see him winning this fight by decision most of the time.

Written by Adam Martin.

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