Announced by the UFC on Monday, former heavyweight champions Andrei "Pitbull" Arlovski and Josh "The Warmaster" Barnett have been booked to clash as the main event for UFC Fight Night 93 in Hamburg.
Taking place on September 3rd, this will be the promotion's fifth visit to Germany.
With each coming off losses, Arlovski (25-12, 1 NC) and Barnett (34-8) are in need of a win to stay relevant in the division.
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Arlovski, has dropped back-to-back fights to current heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic and Alistair Overeem respectively, while Barnett is looking to erase an embarrassing first round submission loss to Ben Rothwell in January.
Both long-standing veterans of the sport, they began their careers in the '90s, and have tallied up over 80 combined fights across their records. Unusually, they have never crossed paths in the cage before, though they were touted to fight in the short-lived Affliction promotion in 2008. Ultimately, Arlovski fell to heavyweight legend Fedor Emelianenko instead.
The Emelianenko fight started a four-fight losing skid (including suffering three first round knockouts) and many believed the Belarusian's career to be over.
However, Arlovski bounced back, and returned to the UFC in 2014. Going undefeated over four fights, he fell to Miocic in a title-eliminator.
Barnett is the current heavyweight champion of the grappling-only event Metamoris. He also holds the accolade of being the youngest ever heavyweight champion in UFC history, after dethroning Randy Couture at UFC 36. However, he subsequently failed a post-fight drugs test, was stripped of the title and fired.
Ironically, Barnett was set to face Emelianenko at Affliction after the Arlovski fight. But he was busted once again for steroids 10 days before the fight took place.
This cost Barnett the fight and heralded the end for the upstart promotion. Barnett denied the allegations, though UFC president Dana White famously stated that the Warmaster would never fight in the UFC again because of his chequered history of failed tests.
But, as they say time is the greatest healer, and in May 2013 Barnett made his long-awaited return to MMA’s premier organisation. Since then, he has gone 2-2, with victories over Frank Mir and Roy Nelson, whilst being finished by Travis Browne and Ben Rothwell.
Also announced for the event is a light heavyweight bout between Ryan Bader and the surging Illir Latifi.Bader hopes to rebuild after a disappointing stoppage to Anthony Johnson in January.
Bader hopes to rebuild after a disappointing stoppage to Anthony Johnson in January. Ranked 13th in the world, the Swedish Latifi hopes to use the momentum of his three previous victories to leapfrog him past Bader and into title contention.