UFC planned for Barnett vs. dos Santos before negotiations failed (updated)
Before he ultimately got booked for a fight with Alistair Overeem at UFC 160, the UFC planned to match up former champion Junior dos Santos with Josh Barnett.
But with the UFC unable to secure Barnett (32-6 MMA, 4-1 UFC) to a contract following the recent closing of Strikeforce, his former ahead, UFC officials instead booked dos Santos (15-2 MMA, 9-1 UFC) vs. Overeem (36-12 MMA, 1-1 UFC) for May 25 pay-per-view event.
Earlier this month, Barnett\'s manager, Leland LaBarre, told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) that \"a sticking point\" had spoiled the negotiations. Neither side has completely closed the door on a potential deal, but both Barnett\'s camp and UFC President Dana White have suggested the fighter won\'t be competing for the UFC anytime soon.
Had they reached a deal, which officials said was held up for reasons other than financial ones, Barnett would have gotten a high-profile fight against dos Santos, who lost his title to Cain Velasquez during a December rematch.
But, \"I\'m sure Josh Barnett doesn\'t care,\" White said. \"Josh Barnett\'s a fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants type guy, beats to his own drum. He said if he stayed in the UFC all this time, what could he have accomplished or whatever.
\"But Josh Barnett\'s never been a guy to say \'I don\'t want to fight this guy\' or \'I don\'t want to fight that guy.\' He\'s not that type of person. He likes to fight.\"
That\'s actually high praise from White, who\'s sometimes quick to criticize fighters when deals can\'t be worked out.
Barnett, an early-UFC champion who\'s also dabbled in pro wrestling during his 16-year pro MMA career, hasn\'t indicated where he could end up next. LaBarre said they\'ve talked to \"every major organization you\'ve heard of and some you haven\'t.\"
\"I was excited to fight JR. (sic),\" said Barnett in a written statement obtained today by MMAjunkie.com. \"I thought he was a very favorable matchup for me, but Zuffa was unwilling to give me something that they gave Eddie Alvarez. No disrespect to Eddie, but I felt it was fair to give it to me as well.\"
LaBarre declined to elaborate on the sticking point that led to the impasse. Alvarez, however, was offered a variety of sweeteners by UFC parent Zuffa following the expiration of his Bellator contract. They included a $250,000 signing bonus and a cut of pay-per-view profits should he fight for the UFC title or capture the belt. (Bellator and Alvarez currently are locked in a legal dispute over the Zuffa offer and a subsequent match by the tournament-based promotion.)
Barnett, who\'s 9-1 over the past five years, is arguably the only non-UFC fighter in the heavyweight division\'s world top 15, so quality of competition could be an issue going forward
For the latest on UFC 160, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.