Josh Barnett and Dean Lister are both among the best professional grappling competitors of the last few decades, and they took to the mats on August 9th, 2014 at Metamoris 4 for an epic match. The two men actually have quite a lot in common despite the fact that Lister was a top BJJ black belt competitor and Barnett was a catch wrestling proponent. They are both MMA veterans who spent some time in the UFC, with Lister holding a 12-7 professional record at the time of the match and Barnett sitting at 33-7 in the sport. In grappling, Barnett had already won an IBJJF no gi world championship and Lister had already won the titles that earned him a place in the ADCC Hall of Fame. Both of them are known for their brutally effective grappling styles, so a match between them was bound to be a grueling battle.
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Josh Barnett v Dean Lister – Metamoris 4
Dean Lister didn’t waste any time at Metamoris 4, as he pulled butterfly guard very early on in his match with Josh Barnett. Lister tried to transition to an armbar but Barnett pulled his arm free and got back to work trying to pass from his knees. After a minute or so of trying to pressure through, Barnett stood briefly to try and pull his opponent’s legs to the side but couldn’t succeed and returned to his knees. After another minute of heavy pressure, Barnett managed to grind his way through Lister’s guard and settle into side control. Barnett then spent a while using a cradle to control the position and prevent Lister from escaping.
Lister eventually managed to make it to his side in order to relieve the pressure but it was relatively short-lived as Barnett readjusted and got his positional control back. It took a little while longer but Lister did manage to work his way back to half-guard, shortly before he threw up another quick armbar attempt. That was unsuccessful, but it did allow Lister to recover full guard, forcing Barnett to disengage to standing. Barnett attempted a quick knee-slice pass and transitioned into stacking his opponent when it didn’t work, driving Lister over his own head and into turtle.
Barnett was showing excellent top control by pinning one of his opponent’s legs while he was working for a good upper-body control. Josh Barnett broke Dean Lister down to one hip in order to transition to another cradle, although Lister was able to free his head and relieve the pressure. Lister attempted to escape but Barnett transitioned to north-south to maintain top control, before working towards a kimura. Lister tried to escape once again and was almost successful, but Barnett regained his composure in order to get back to work on the kimura.
Lister kept his arm tight to his body with his free arm and used the tiny window of opportunity when Barnett was wrenching the grip open to hide his arm entirely. Barnett tried to establish the side control dominance he’d been showing earlier in the match, but Lister was able to turn to turtle this time around. Lister rolled through to try and attack his opponent’s legs but Barnett managed to keep his hips far away from him and keep the top pressure going. He eventually freed his leg and drove Lister’s legs clear, settling into north-south once again. Barnett transitioned to side control and began isolating the arm, before quickly switching to the other arm when Lister defended.
Josh Barnett transitioned back to north-south and started to work on the same kimura that he tried against Dean Lister earlier, although Lister used a grip on the inside of his thigh to stay safe this time. Barnett moved back to side control and started to drive his knee on to Lister’s face, but escaped and recovered half-guard. Lister tried to attack an arm but Barnett used a heavy over-under pass that forced Lister to release the arm in order to defend and re-guard. Barnett stood back up to pass but was noticeably slower now, as the match was coming into it’s final minutes.
Barnett moved Lister’s legs to the side and dropped straight into north-south to finish the pass. Barnett started isolating an arm and transitioned to attacking the kimura on the other arm when Lister defended, but couldn’t secure either one in the end. The resulting scramble allowed Lister to work back to full guard again, but this didn’t last long as Barnett stood up and quickly passed to the left. He secured a traditional kesa-gatame position more commonly seen in Judo with just a little under 30 seconds left on the clock in their 20 minute match.
From there he clasped his hands together and drove into Lister to apply phenomenal pressure on both his neck and chest. There was just 12 seconds left on the clock when Dean Lister finally tapped to the submission and Josh Barnett became the first man to submit him in over 16 years of professional competition. Barnett has even gone on to explain the version of side control that he used to submit Lister, as it is a fantastic way to apply pressure to an opponent.