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UFC Fight Night 93: 4 Key Storylines for Arlovski vs. Barnett Fight Card

Published by Bleacher Report on Thu, 01 Sep 2016

UFC Fight Night 93 goes down Saturday from the home of the hamburger (one assumes) Hamburg, Germany.In the main event, you have two very, very old heavyweights fighting each other in the 38-year-old Josh Barnett and the 37-year-old Andrei Arlovski. Come to think of it, they're not that old by modern MMA heavyweight standards. I understand the average heavyweight is 33 upon emergence in the delivery room.Full disclosure: This is not a good card. All the more reason why you need to protect your valuable time. Consider these your crib notes for what's worth watching and what isn't. These are the four key storylines to monitor in Deutschland. Loser Leaves Town in the Main Event'That would be an unusual duet of circumstances. But it could be true, with Arlovski having lost two straight and Barnett (34-8)who has a fairly checkered history with the UFCdropping two of his last three.Arlovski (25-12 [1]) may be in worse shape. After riding the crest of a yearlong, late-career resurgence, he hit a trough the year after, losing by knockout to Stipe Miocic and again to Alistair Overeem in the respective first and second rounds.For his part, Arlovski certainly isn't whistling any Dixie.My priority is to train hard and fight hard and one day be a champion again," Arlovski told Kevin Francis of the Daily Star. "I am confident I can do that.That's great, but he's still a slim (-155 late Tuesday, according toOdds Shark) underdog against Barnett.Even so, the Belarusian and his glassening jaw have to be happy that Barnett is mainly a submissions guy, and that the catch wrestling and MMA legend appears to be flagging himself.Proponents like Barnett's power in the clinch and on the ground, essentially guessing that Barnett will be able to overcome Arlovski's tough takedown defense or just rock him with a big hand.At this point in his career, if Arlovski can stay clear of Barnett's bull rush, perhaps he deserves to remain at the top of this thin division. But by a small but clear margin, the matchup is suggesting favorability for Barnett. The world needs heavyweights, so we'll see what befalls the loser. Alexander the Great Gets Red-Carpet TreatmentAlexander Gustafsson is the biggest favorite on the card, and it's not close. The Pole Jan Blachowicz is a guy who entered the UFC with some hype as a powerful if plodding prospect. He's now 33 years old with an undistinguished 2-2 record in the company.Sure, Blachowicz could hit a flash knockdown or nab an armbar. In MMA the issue is never certain. At the same time, with Jon Jones out of the picture for the time being, the light heavyweight division has a vacancy at the top. The popular and exciting Gustafsson, it appears, is their man for the job.He's not a title contender this moment, having lost to both champ Daniel Cormier and top challenger Anthony Johnson, but after those two do battle, it seems likely who'll be waiting in the wings. Green EuropeansThe UFC's international expansion continues unabated; this is the UFC's fourth show on German soil and first in the city of Hamburg.As is their wont, UFC matchmakers have sprinkled the card with local favorites, in hopes one or more of the hometown guys can make an impression. There aren't a ton of splashy prospect names on the card, but the quantity isn't lacking.The main card features popular journeymen like Ilir Latifi and German judo player Nick Hein. The undercard is even more anonymous and evokes the old throw-it-against-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks approach to life.Nine of 14 prelim fightersJessin Ayari, Jim Wallhead, Nicolas Dalby, Peter Sobotta, Taylor Lapilus, Christian Colombo, Scott Askham, Jack Hermansson and Rustam Khabilovare European.Nearly half of that contingentAyari, Wallhead, Hermansson and Colombomake their UFC debuts.So, no, prospect hunters are probably not likely to spot the next big name at this event. Nevertheless, it's always fun to see how the new guys fare. Khabilov And Dagestan Seek a ComebackIt wasn't long ago that Rustam Khabilov was the first or second name off anyone's tongue when naming the UFC's best prospects, Russian or otherwise. Khabilov, from the nation's Dagestan republic, was neck and neck with fellow Dagestani Khabib Nurmagomedov for top honors.Well, you know how this works. Khabilov lost two straight in 2014-15 and hasn't fully regained that lost momentum despite two straight rebound wins this year. Nurmagomedov has fallen prey to multiple injuries and canceled blockbusters. Several other North Caucasus notables, from Omari Akhmedov to Ali Bagautinov, plateaued or took a step back, for one reason or another.Fighting in his relative backyard, Khabilov has a chance at a high-profile win that will get him back on track. The North Caucasus is still the hottest talent hotbed in MMA today. Maybe, like an elite basketball team, the group just needs to see the ball go through the hoop for one of its guys for all of them to get hot again.Scott Harris covers MMA for Bleacher Report. For more, follow Scott on Twitter.
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