Josh Barnett is about to face off against his fellow Pride FC veteran Sergei Kharitonov this weekend in the semi-finals of the Strikeforce World Heavyweight Grand Prix and, as he told MMAWeekly.com, he believes he’ll be squaring off against the best version of Kharitonov to have competed at this point.
“I think it’s the best Kharitonov we’ve ever seen,” said Barnett. “He looks sharp. He looks like he’s the most on-point and in shape that he’s been in his career.”
Both Barnett and Kharitonov made their bones in Pride, but the two heavyweights never crossed paths for one reason or another. Barnett said that the most resounding observation he made then about Kharitonov still rings true today; even though he’s made significant progress in terms of his overall skill level, Barnett sees Kharitonov’s grit as his best quality in the cage.
“I thought he was always a very tough guy with some gaps in his game that were more obvious than say some other fighters,” said Barnett. “But, he’s got that tough, Russian, steel will, just won’t break and I think that’s still the same and I think it’s likely his strongest asset.”
Barnett and Kharitonov will meet in the main event of Strikeforce World Grand Prix: Barnett vs. Kharitonov this Saturday night at the US Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio. Antonio Silva and tournament alternate Daniel Cormier in other Grand Prix semi-finals action.