Saturday, September 3rd, 2016 in Hamburg, Germany for UFC Fight Night 93: “Arlovski vs. Barnett” by Daniel Tom

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*:The opinions expressed in these breakdowns are for entertainment purposes only, as my goal here is to provide analysis for those who enjoy the technical or gaming aspects of our sport. If you chose to gamble, I recommend doing so responsibly and legally as it is at your own risk. Enjoy the fights!


Andrei Arlovski (25-12)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’4″ Age: 37 Weight: 241 lbs Reach: 77″
  • Last Fight: TKO loss / Alistair Overeem (5-8-16)
  • Camp: Jackson-Wink MMA (New Mexico)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   Former UFC Heavyweight Champ
+   Multiple Sambo Accolades
+   17 KO victories
+   3 Submission wins
+   13 first round finishes
+   KO Power
^   Heavy hands
+   Accurate right-hand
+   Deceptive hand & foot speed
+/-Blitzes on stunned opponents
^   Counter availabilities
+   Strong inside the clinch
^   Stifles/favors outside trips
+   83% Takedown defense
+/-Plays it safe grappling
^   Primarily looks to stall
–    Head upright on retreat
–    Low strike retractions
–    Dropped or stopped in last 4 fights


Josh Barnett (34-8)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’3″ Age: 38 Weight: 248 lbs Reach: 78″
  • Last Fight: Submission loss / Ben Rothwell (1-30-16)
  • Camp: CSW (California)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   Former UFC Heavyweight Champ
+   Accomplished No-Gi Grappler
+   10 KO victories
+   18 Submission wins
+   13 first round finishes
+   KO Power
+   Improved striking
^   Underrated jab/shot selection
+   Will switch stances
^   Powerful kicks from southpaw
+   Crafty clinch game
^   Hand fights, strikes, takedowns
+   Dangerous elbows & knees in close
+   Diverse submission acumen
+   Superb top game
^   Consistently cooks & catches
+/-2 fights in 3 years
+/-Willingness to exchange
^   Counter availabilities


Headlining UFC Hamburg is a heavyweight affair between two of the division’s legends as Andrei Arlovski faces Josh Barnett. Despite the late-career resurgence, Arlovski will look to pick himself up from a two-fight skid as he makes his 21st UFC appearance. Also coming back from a hard loss, Barnett will look to make another run at the title he once held. With both men debuting back at UFC 28 and later becoming some of the division’s youngest champions, these two warriors will finally meet in the backend of their storied careers.

Starting off on the feet, I feel Arlovski will be the more dangerous man, but may not enjoy advantages in regards to his arsenal. An increasingly measured striker as he has matured, Arlovski will keep on-the-ready with his pressure as he steadily awaits just outside of range. Similar to many Winkeljohn trained fighters, Andrei will use this outside range as a staging area for combinations executed as bombing runs. However, Josh Barnett will be one of the few fighters who can contend with Andrei’s athleticism as he is also a deceptively fast mover. In looking back at Arlovski’s history, most of his losses in recent memory came from the fighters whom he didn’t hold athletic advantages over.

Barnett will also present problems of his own in regards to striking at range. Wielding an improved jab with footwork to boot, Barnett has made notable upgrades to his striking game. With suspect head movement traditionally making Josh hittable in range, Barnett will now switch stances as he attacks equally well from each side. That said, I suspect a similar approach we saw Josh use in his fight with Roy Nelson, where Barnett used a southpaw stance to dissuade his heavy-handed threat from a distance. With the southpaw stance opening up Barnett’s brutal body kicks to the liver side, we may see this tactic employed given that Andrei is not typically known for his kicking defense.

Although I feel Barnett’s arsenal & volume of attack should give him a slight edge over Arlovski, the high-pressure fires he enjoys can also get him burned as well. Often leaning his head slightly forward and or to his left, Barnett has often eaten right hands and head kicks on that side. Although Arlovski is not known for head kicks from that side(as he favors led leg attacks), Andrei does have his renown right-hand that he tends to throw in cross-uppercut continuums. That said, Andrei has availabilities of his own as the Belarussian tends to keep his head upright in retreat and retract his strikes low. Should Josh find his combination rhythm early, we could see Barnett capitalize on these tendencies as he is one of the few who can arguably move with Arlovski.

The key factor for this fight will likely reside inside the clinch fighting arena. Although Arlovski’s clinch abilities are underrated, I believe Barnett will have the advantage here as he wields a crafty clinch game. Andrei does a deceptively good job at stifling action inside as his rock-like base makes him difficult to take down. That said, it is a defensive based game Arlovski utilizes, whereas Barnett is all about offense once inside the clinch. Whether he is working from hard under-hook & head pressure(ala Randy Couture) or switching off to the occasional Thai plum to deliver knees, Josh can do it all in close quarters.

Against former foes with big right hands like Roy Nelson, we saw Barnett brilliantly display his hand-fighting acumen inside the clinch. Initiating grips on Roy’s right hand repeatedly in close, Josh was able to deliver elbows over the top or unabashedly uncork uppercuts depending on which side was free. Similarly to his fight with Frank Mir, I see Barnett being able to do his best work here against Andrei assuming he clinches on his terms. Although Arlovski has a sneaky outside trip as his preferred clinch offense, he is facing a catch wrestler who has made his career off this same move. However, unless Andrei is compromised or hurt, taking down the Belarussian is seldom an easy task.

With Arlovski lacking urgency from the top or bottom, it is not hard to see why Barnett should have the advantage on the mat. Although Andrei was once known for his Sambo stylings, we have steadily seen him shy away from the armbars & heel-hooks he would go for early in his career. As the ground game in MMA has progressed, Arlovski has not shown to move with this trend as he primarily looks to stall for standups and plays it safe. With the catch wrestling ways of Barnett, I doubt Andrei will have such luxuries as Josh is a master chef when it comes to cooking his opponents. Using pressure positions and brutal ground strikes, Barnett will force his opposition to play into his submission chains and positional advances until securing a catch. Although Arlovski has avoided a submission loss thus far, he may find himself in the fire if his right-hand fails to find it’s home.

Official Pick: Barnett – Inside the distance

Official Outcome: Barnett – Submission (round 3)


Alexander Gustafsson (16-4)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’5″ Age: 29 Weight: 205 lbs Reach: 79″
  • Last Fight: Decision loss / Daniel Cormier (10-3-15)
  • Camp: Allstars Training Center (Sweden)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   #2 UFC Ranked Light-Heavyweight
+   Amateur Boxing experience
+   10 KO victories
+   8 first round finishes
+   3 Submission wins
+   Consistent pace & pressure
^   Superb cardio & conditioning
+   Good footwork/moves well
+   High volume puncher
^   Accurate jabs, hooks, & uppercuts
+   Dangerous knees
+   Underrated wrestling
^   Improved takedown ability
+   Solid top game/pressure
+   Good get-up urgency
–    Sometimes kicks lackadaisically


Jan Blachowicz (19-5)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’2″ Age: 32 Weight: 205 lbs Reach: 78″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Igor Pokrajac (4-10-16)
  • Camp: United Gym (Poland)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   KSW Light-Heavyweight Title
+   Muay Thai Accolades
+   Brown Belt BJJ
+   5 KO victories
+   6 first round finishes
+   KO Power
+   Will switch stances
^   Favors liver kicks from southpaw
+   Good uppercuts & shovel hooks
+   Strong inside the clinch
^   Strikes well off the breaks
+   Improved wrestling
+   Solid top control
–    Struggles on bottom
^   Lacks get-up urgency
–    Propensity to fade


The co-main event on UFC Fight Pass is an all-action light-heavyweight affair as Alexander Gustafsson makes his return against Jan Blachowicz. Coming off of two crushing defeats in 2015, Alexander Gustafsson will seek to get back on track with a win here. Looking to spoil the party is Jan Blachowicz, a champion from the KSW promotion who is in search of a breakthrough performance on the big stage.

As the heaviest favorite on the card, it is not hard to see why given the stylistic matchup. Although Blachowicz is no pushover by any means, the plotting nature of the Pole may play into Alexander’s game. Although the reach may appear near on paper, Gustafsson will undoubtedly be the longer man inside the cage. Moving deceptively well for a tall fighter, Alex demonstrates a superb fleet of foot as he maintains the overall discipline of his footwork round by round. Working behind a steady dose of long jabs and corraling hooks, the Swede will sneak in uppercuts underneath or crosses over the shoulder amidst his waves of offense.

Not known for his jab or distance management in regards to footwork, Blachowicz will likely be at an inherent disadvantage at a distance. That said, the Pole will have weapons of his own that will be live in this fight. Aside from his shovel hook that may score well with a taller man, Jan flashes a hard liver kick off of his left side that often follows his punches. Against an upright Alex in retreat, these may be Blachowicz’s best shot at a tall moving target. However, Jan tends to give his liver kicking intentions away with blatant switches to southpaw, as I suspect this may cue off the quick-footed Swede.

Jan’s best chances at catching Alex will likely happen off the clinch breaks. Whether it is elbows or kicks, Blachowicz consistently strikes off the breaks as this is where Gustafsson will need to be most careful. That said, the Pole will need to minds his manners as well when playing inside the clinch as Alex’s most dangerous weapons are his knees. Blachowicz tends to fight in bursts and take breaks in close, which could cost him against the more active fighter. An underrated wrestler who was one of the few to score takedowns against Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier, I feel Alex will have the advantage in deciding those terms of the fight.

Although Jan has made improvements to his wrestling as well, he favors attempting his takedowns against the cage, a place where Gustafsson has defended well from as he keeps a wide base. Even if Blachowicz finds himself on top in this fight, Gustafsson demonstrates a healthy urgency as he was one of the few fighters to get up from underneath Daniel Cormier. More than likely, I see the Swede being the one topside in this fight. Despite his long and gangly frame, Gustafsson keeps a tight top game as he applies good shoulder pressure and fundamentals.

Those fundamentals translate to his work inside the guard, as Gustafsson is good about keeping his hands off the mat and maintains a safe posture. Sometimes utilizing a can opener to disrupt a closed guard, Alex will need to be careful as Blachowicz has some slick armlocks amongst his bag of tricks. However, Jan has shown to be less effective off of his back against the higher level of opposition, as his willingness to fight from the bottom has cost him rounds consistently in the UFC. Couple that with the Pole’s propensity to fade, Blachowicz may be looking at another long night should he fail to find a finish early.

Official Pick: Gustafsson – Decision

Official Outcome: Gustafsson – Decision


Ryan Bader (20-4)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’2″ Age: 33 Weight: 205 lbs Reach: 74″
  • Last Fight: KO loss / Anthony Johnson (1-30-16)
  • Camp: Power MMA (Arizona)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   2x Div. 1 All-American Wrestler
+   3x Pac-10 Champion
+   7 KO victories
+   3 Submission wins
+   8 first round finishes
+   KO power
+   Improved striking & footwork
+   Accurate jab
+   Good cardio & conditioning
+   Explosive power double takedown
+   Strong pressure against fence
^   Effective clinch & bodylock
+   Solid positional awareness & rides
^   Active ground striker
–    Strikes retract low
^   Counter availabilities


Ilir Latifi (12-4)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’10” Age: 33 Weight: 205 lbs Reach: 75″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Gian Villante (3-5-16)
  • Camp: American Top Team (Florida)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   Swedish National Wrestling Team
+   ADCC European Champion
+   6 KO victories
+   4 Submission wins
+   8 first round finishes
+   KO Power (both hands)
+   Improved striking & footwork
+   Heavy leg kicks
+   Strong athletic base
^   100% takedown defense
+   Solid takedown ability
^   Double-legs, Suplex, etc.
+   Dangerous from front headlock
^   Chokes or transitional rides
+/-Tends to fight in bursts
^   Gas tank bares watching


In a matchup of light-heavyweight contenders, Ryan Bader does battle with Ilir Latifi. Coming off a disappointing defeat at the hands of Anthony Johnson earlier this year, Bader will look to pick up where he left off in regards to another run toward the top. Standing in his way is a steadily rising contender in Ilir Latifi. Hailing from the Sweedish MMA Scene, Latifi has shown he is a player in the division as he gets his first taste of top-10 competition.

Like many wrestler versus wrestler matchups where both men have high takedown defense rates, I expect this bout to be contested primarily on the feet. On paper, both fighters have shown similar progressions in their standup. While they each engaged in blitzing opponents early on in their UFC careers, both men have incorporated a more measured approached that involves circling and resetting. That said, the more experienced fighter in Ryan Bader will likely be the more technical striker. Since working with Chaz Turner at Power MMA, we have seen measurable improvements to Bader’s game.

Demonstrating a focus on opening up Ryan’s hips & stance, Bader will hit and move much more fluidly as he puts his combinations together. Throwing punches with a more technical purpose, Ryan has displayed diverseness in his right-handed attacks. However, I feel his underrated jab will be Bader’s biggest asset against the heavy-hitting Latifi. Throwing his jab with much more accuracy and confidence, we have seen Bader consistently damage the right eyes of his opponents in his last two victories(Phil Davis & Rashad Evans). In a similar spirit to GSP’s win over Josh Koscheck, Ryan’s jab could dissuade Ilir’s approach if done so correctly.

Although Ilir has shown overall improvements to his striking game since moving shop to American Top Team, he is not exactly James Toney in regards to his head movement. Bader also punctuates his combinations with a hard switch-kick to the liver side that may have play should Ilir fail to shore up his defenses. We saw Latifi suffer his lone UFC stoppage loss due a liver kick from Jan Blachowicz, who also throws his switch kicks in a similar fashion. That said, Latifi will be the more dangerous striker as he also has shown solid trends in his fight-to-fight improvements, albeit a smaller sample size.

With one-punch knockout power in either hand, it would be hard to blame Ilir Latifi for falling in love with his hands. That said, I was impressed with Latifi in his last time out as he faced an underrated veteran in Gian Villante. Despite Villante being just as dangerous and much more technical than Ilir, the Sledgehammer not only held his own but demonstrated a more diverse arsenal while maintaining a good shot selection. Even though Latifi showed signs of a suspect gas tank(a common side-effect for the frame he carries), Ilir would intelligently circle out and reset to safety.

Although Bader may not respect the shot feints of Ilir, I feel the Albanian’s stance switching acumen will play a factor as Latifi is effective from both sides. Against a more preset/programmed combination striker like Bader, the stance-switches of Ilir accompanied by his heavy-hitting return shots could stifle the approaches of Bader should he establish himself early. Latifi also wields hard leg kicks that may serve him well against Ryan. Even under his new & improved striking regime, we have seen glimpses of Bader’s lackadaisical leg kick defense in his fights with Davis & Evans. Considering Latifi’s leg kicks have shown to debase his opponents on impact, this could be something that comes to light.

As far as the wrestling game goes, I feel that Bader will have more of a motive as well as a slight edge in the takedown department. Utilizing his improved jab & footwork, Ryan will more cleverly set up his reactive shots as he catches his opposition coming in. Considering that Ilir will likely be the aggressor on the feet, this may be Bader’s best chances at grounding Latifi. With only a small sample size of legitimate shots threats on Ilir, it will be interesting to see how the Albanian stacks up with a high-caliber wrestler who may want to take him down. Regardless of Bader successfully scoring on Ilir or not, Ryan may be able to find his edge in this battle just by making Ilir work. We have seen Bader bounce back from devastating defeats before, as he tends to come back with conservative but strong efforts in regards to fighting on his terms.

Looking back at Bader’s record, it seems that he is successful at this when fighting opponents that he holds a clear wrestling advantage over. However, he tends to struggle, or at the very least be involved in closer affairs when the skill sets are more balanced. Against an arguably world class wrestler in Latifi, Ryan may not enjoy grappling exchanges with the suplex machine when both men are fresh. Similarly to Bader, Ilir also works well from the front headlock position, which means each fighter will likely be on to the other’s intentions. Although I could easily see a path for Bader to earn a workman-like decision here(as he is the deserved favorite), I would not be confident in picking him as I feel Latifi is more than a live dog in this spot.

Official Pick: Latifi – Inside the distance

Official Outcome: Bader – KO (round 2)


Nick Hein (13-2-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’6″ Age: 32 Weight: 155 lbs Reach: 66.5″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Yusake Kasuya (9-26-15)
  • Camp: Dynamix MMA (LA/Germany)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Excellent

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Judo Black Belt
+   Multiple Judo Accolades
+   1 KO victory
+   2 first round finishes
+   4 Submission wins
+   Good footwork/lateral movement
^   Manages distance well
+/-Conservative work rate
^   Stick & move stylist
+   Accurate left hand
^   Favors the counter shot
+   Improved kicking game
+   Strong inside the clinch
^   Superb base & balance
+   Solid top game/pressure
–    Head upright in exchanges
^   Counter availabilities


Tae Hyun Bang (18-9)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 33 Weight: 155 lbs Reach: 71″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Leo Kuntz (11-28-15)
  • Camp: Korean Top Team (Korea)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Switch-stance / Boxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Wrestling Base
+   Amateur Boxing experience
+   9 KO victories
+   3 first round finishes
+   KO Power
^   Heavy in both hands
–    Low handed guard
^   Uses to bait counters
+/-Willingness to exchange
^   Traditionally takes damage
+   Physically strong in the clinch
^   Favors takedowns & throws
–    57% Takedown defense
+   Deceptive scramble acumen
+   Devastating ground striker
–    Propensity to fade in fights
^   Gas tank bares watching


Kicking off the main card on UFC Fight Pass is a fun matchup in the lightweight division as Nick Hein takes on Tae Hyun Bang. A German superstar and man of many talents, “The Sergeant” Nick Hein will look to once again score on his home stage. With back and nerve issues forcing Hein from his scheduled bout with Jon Tuck back in Rotterdam earlier this year, we will see how Nick fairs with this quick turnaround on home turf. Looking to spoil the party is Tae Hyun Bang, a dangerous veteran of the Asian MMA circuits and member of the Korean Top Team.

As you would expect from a fighter who makes his walk wearing a cowboy hat, Tae Hyun Bang is a tough, and durable fighter who is dangerous until the bitter end. Reminiscent of a Korean Dan Henderson, Bang will seldom go to his wrestling base as he prefers to play seek and destroy. Wielding devastating power in both hands, Tae Hyun will plot forward with an almost disdainfully low-guard as he looks to bait his opposition. Lowering his level and planting his weight, Bang will gladly meet the oncoming attacks as he unloads his power. Considering the stick & move stylings of Nick Hein, the dangerous counters of the South Korean will be live for as long as the fight goes.

However, Tae Hyun tends to swing very wide with his hooking shots, which could make him susceptible to a straighter and faster puncher. Although I do not necessarily like the upright posture of Hein on his entries, the German has shown notable improvements to his striking since his camps with Tiger Muay Thai. Not only have we seen Hein implement kicks much better than before, but his angles on his punches have also become more efficient. Although Nick utilized awkward angles to great effect previously, he will now variate them as he also throws straight shots down the pipe. Working with Antony Hardonk at Dynamix MMA for this camp, it will be interesting to see if Nick employs more leg kicks despite facing a stance-switching fighter.

I expect the key factor in this fight to be Hein’s speed & footwork. Although Bang is deceptively athletic, he tends to plot forward at a steadily slowing pace. With a knack for scoring knockdowns early, Tae Hyun will often fall into a headhunting trap as throws home run shots at the cost of his cardio. Considering that Hein can dart in and out or move well laterally, the South Korean will need to work extra hard to cut off the German’s escape routes. Should Bang start to time Hein, I feel that Nick has a much more reliable plan B in this fight’s grand scheme. Although his submission game is still largely unproven in its UFC sample size, the accomplished Judoka should have the advantage in regards to takedowns.

Despite Tae Hyun wrestling from twelve years of age, the South Korean shows a surprising susceptibility to being taken down. Though he works well off a front headlock, Bang will often take the bait on Guillotines as he will succeed to bottom in search of a finish. That said, I believe Tae Hyun can scramble back to his feet deceptively well when he chooses as I feel the ground stanzas won’t last long. Ultimately, Hein appears to have a better gas tank to fuel his athleticism as I see him being the one scoring in exchanges. Given the recoverability of each man, I do not expect a finish to come fast or easy. Although Tae Hyun has all the ingredients to bring the bang, a disciplined decision turned in by Hein is the more likely outcome.

Official Pick: Hein – Decision

Official Outcome: Hein – Decision

Preliminary Card Predictions:

  • Wallhead def. Ayari
  • Dalby def. Sobotta
  • Evans-Smith def. Macedo
  • Lapilus def. Issa
  • Khabilov def. Silva
  • Hermansson def. Askham
  • Danho def. Colombo

Recommended Plays:

Draft Kings recommended rosters:


Team #1: $49,900.00

-Alexander Gustafsson ($12,500.00)
-Rustam Khabilov ($10,200.00)
-Josh Barnett ($9,700.00)
-Ilir Latifi ($9,100.00)
-Peter Sobotta ($8,400.00)

Team Summary:

With only one recommended roster for this weeks card, I went with a lineup that features key players that I suggest you consider for yourself. For my high-tier favorites, I selected Alexander Gustafsson, Rustam Khabilov, and Josh Barnett. Although Alexander Gustafsson may force some uncomfortable moves as far as roster budget goes, he is well worth the price of $12,500.00 as he is the highest point scorer on the card with an average of 72.25(not to mention his favorable matchup that I breakdown above).

Secondly, I went with Rustam Khabilov as he is the second most favored fighter on the card to win according to Vegas odds. Although Leandro Silva has a knack for stifling the action in fights, this is the perfect spot for Rustam to make a statement with a possible finish. Regardless if Rustam finds the finish, the Dagestani should score enough significant strikes and takedowns to earn his roster price of $10,200.00. Lastly, I went with Josh Barnett as he is the 2nd highest scorer on the card with an average of 69.5 points. As the favored fighter in the main event, I feel that Barnett is a steal for the price of $9,700.00.

For my low-tier underdog picks, I elected to go with Ilir Latifi and Peter Sobotta. For the reasons listed in my breakdown above, I feel that Ilir Latifi is the livest dog on the card as he is also it’s 3rd high scorer with an average of 68.929 points. Considering that a Latifi victory will likely come in the form of a knockout, the Albanian makes for a solid supporting cast member at $9,100.00. Finally, I went with Peter Sobotta as I feel he is also a live dog in his matchup. Despite officially siding with Dalby to earn a hard-fought decision on the feet, the Danish talent has yet to face a submission threat like Sobotta. An excellent and accoladed no-gi grappler, Sobotta may surprise many should he soberly find his way to the mat. For the price of $8,400.00, the home crowd hero could be worth a shot to shore up an expensive lineup.

Props worth looking at(

-Nick Hein by Decision: +100 (1.0 Unit)
-Rustam Khabilov by Decision: -135 (1.0 Unit)
-Ilir Latifi by TKO/KO: +420 (0.5 Unit)
-Gustafsson/Blachowicz over 2 1/2: +120 (0.5 Unit)

Playable favorites for your parlays:

-Rustam Khabilov
-Nick Hein
-Josh Barnett

Fights to avoid:

-Jarjis Danho vs Christian Colombo
-Scott Askham vs Jack Hermansson
-Nicolas Dalby vs Peter Sobotta

For the complete analysis of future & past UFC events visit and for future breakdowns & your latest in world-wide MMA news, stay tuned & follow @MMALatestnws

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