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UFC 36: What happened when Josh Barnett challenged Randy Couture for the Heavyweight Championship?

Paul Benson
286   //    Timeless

Randy Couture
Randy Couture

Randy Couture suffered his first ever defeat inside the Octagon, five years after his UFC debut as he lost his Heavyweight title to the massive, Josh Barnett in the main event of UFC 36.

Couture had been champion since UFC 28 but was out-muscled by the giant, Barnett. Couture did control the opening round by pulling Barnett into his guard and landing some good shots but the second round saw Barnett's fearsome striking take over.

He reversed an attempt from Couture to enter side control and unloaded with a huge flurry of punches that the champion could not escape. The fight was stopped and Barnett was awarded the UFC Heavyweight Championship. In a classy move, Couture handed the belt to the new champion. However, Barnett would never defend it as he was stripped of the title for testing positive for steroid use.

Randy Couture raises Josh Barnett's hand in victory
Randy Couture raises Josh Barnett's hand in victory

Pedro Rizzo, fresh off consecutive defeats in Heavyweight title fights versus Couture got back on the winning trail with a victory over the up and coming, Andrei Arlovski. The pair didn't really engage that much; typical of Rizzo and the younger Arlovski probably gave him too much respect. As a result, the bout was mostly dominated by leg kicks before Rizzo finally unloaded with a nice combination in the third round to knock the Belarussian out.

Welterweight Champion, Matt Hughes defeated Hayato Sakurai in the longest bout of the night. It seems silly now at the time of writing (January 2019) but Hughes was the underdog in this fight, due to the controversial way in which he won the belt from Carlos Newton at UFC 34.

In truth, however, Hughes dominated this one from the start. Utilising his impressive strength, Hughes dominated in the clinch, with takedowns and also in the mount. It was a one-sided beating that resulted in a TKO win in the fourth round. Post-fight, Hughes challenged Newton to a re-match. That took place at UFC 38. You can see my review of that event here.

Matt Lindland beat veteran Pat Miletich in Miletich's final UFC fight. Lindland shocked onlookers by dominating Miletich in the mount, pounding away for the quick stoppage win. Lindland made a star out of himself with this win and earned a main event spot at the very next UFC event.

Evan Tanner earned a TKO win over Elvis Sinosic very quickly when elbows to the head opened a cut on Sinosic that the doctors deemed serious enough to call off the fight. Tanner began to move his way up the ranks with this victory.


That was UFC 36. An entertaining show overall as the promotion began to find it's groove in promoting events after the dark days of 1998 to 2001 as well as successfully building new stars who would carry the company throughout the rest of the decade.

The show drew around 55,000 buys on pay-per-view.