As TKO fans are very much aware, Strahinja “The Werewolf” Gavrilovic (7-4-0, 4 KO 2 sub) and Marc-André “Powerbar” Barriault (8-1-0, 6 KO) have been trading verbal barbs for over a year now. However, on December 8 at the Bell Centre, the war of words will be set aside and both men will let their fists do the talking as they square off for the TKO Middleweight championship.
The two met in the cage one year ago in a very close contest which saw Barriault get his hand raised after a split decision over three rounds. This time, the bout is scheduled for five rounds although with all the bad blood that has been amassed over the last 14 months, it’s hard to imagine these men won’t both be going all out from the opening bell.
Barriault, fighting out of Quebec City, has definitely lived up to the hype, maintaining a perfect 3-0 record since joining TKO in late 2016. After scoring a highlight reel knockout of Yacine Bandoui, he avenged his only career loss by finishing Jonathan Vallee in June. He even proved he could hang with the big boys, winning via split decision over the country’s top light heavyweight, Todd Stoute in the fall. To Barriault however, he is simply following the path he had carved out when he started on this journey: “My team and I have known from day 1 that I would be successful. After every fight we do what it takes to ensure I’ll be better the next time out. December 8 will be no different: you’re going to see the best version of me yet.”
In contrast, Gavrilovic’s carreer seemed like it had hit the skids in the early part of 2017. In January, he promptly knocked out Vallee in under 1 minute but wound up being disqualified for unsportsmanlike conduct. The loss, his fourth consecutive, left many wondering if we would ever see “The Werewolf” again. “I started the year out on the wrong foot and made some bad choices” recounted the man from Sherbrooke. However, much like you’d expect given his nickname, it was in the darkest of times that he was at his most dangerous.
He overcame veteran Fritz Paul with a slick submission, showing a side of him fans had never seen before. Then came his biggest career challenge as he took on UFC veteran and Bellator tournament champion Maiquel Falcao. Again, Gavrilovic was patient, picking his spots and managed to finish the international star, ensuring that his path would cross Barriault’s once again.
Since that night, the two have gone back and forth at every possible occasion, be it press conferences, radio interviews or social media. To many, this rivalry has become personal, something Gavrilovic is no stranger to: “Every fight is personal to me. He’s telling everyone he’s gonna take me out? Well I’m gonna take him out.”
In contrast Barriault described his foe as “a gimmick and people love that” whereas he perceives himself as more of a “humble guy that could be a better representative for the promotion and the sport.”
When it comes to fight night, Gavrilovic would not predict exactly how he sees the outcome although he did guarantee it would be a night his opponent would never forget. “Every morning he wakes up after December 8, him, his friends, his family, they’re gonna see the scars on his face and remember I put them there.”
Even though he is typically more reserved, Barriault did not hesitate to make a bold prediction for the upcoming superfight: “I’m gonna knock him out within 2 rounds. I expect him to be at his best but I’m gonna have an answer for everyting and I’ll come out as champion. Good things happen to good people and good things are gonna happen to me on the big night.“
Join us on Friday, December 8 for TKO 41: Champions at Montreal’s Bell Centre. Tickets on sale now at www.evenko.ca or by phone at (514) 790-2525.
– Story by Patrick Lono, TKO