Josh Barnett Still Looking for “Right Scenario” With UFC
Heavyweight fighter Josh Barnett seems to have come full-circle toward the UFC Monday when he spoke with The MMA Hour. Barnett (32-6), who earlier this year rejected a contract offered by the UFC, has talked openly after Strikeforce ended its promotion about his desire to fight in various fight organizations.
On Monday, however, Barnett seemed to suggest that the UFC is the most logical choice of promotion for him. He rejected the UFC’s last offer, claiming the contract lacked a particular restitution to which he felt entitled. His management since clarified that the clause in question did not concern money, but Barnett declined to go into detail out of respect to the UFC. He did mention, though, that this issue is “a very, very simple thing, in my mind.”
When asked if he wanted to fight for the UFC, Barnett switched his usual tone of brashly and comically avoiding a committing answer to sincerely expressing interest in joining the promotion.
“I would love to fight in the UFC next,” said Barnett. “The UFC would be the most attractive place to ply my wares.”
“I’ve been a top-10 fighter longer than anybody active in mixed martial arts at this time. And there’s a real good reason for that. To be in the UFC would mean to go back to where I already won the belt, to go back to where I was champion at 24 years old, and try to cement my legacy as an MMA fighter. I don’t really feel I can create that legacy and finish on a high point unless I’m there.”
Barnett went 4-1 in the UFC from 2000 to 2002, defeating Randy Couture by 2nd round TKO to claim Couture’s heavyweight belt. He tested positive for steroids following that fight, afterward fighting for several other promotions including Pride FC, Affliction and eventually Strikeforce.
Eying a return to the UFC, Barnett discussed a fight with Frank Mir- something about which Josh said many fans ask him.
“With Frank, it’s just the one fight everyone brings to me. I think part of that stems from us being American submission guys, and being big dudes, and having the fight between [Antonio Rodrigo] Nogueira and Mir, me and Nogueira, there’s some commonality between opponents. I can understand why fans look at it in that way. And honestly, yeah, Frank’s been around a long time. I’d have absolutely no issue fighting him in any way, shape or form. I think it would be something that would get people excited, but I’ll be honest. If I’m just being humble, I think I get people excited anyway.”
Of course, before any of this comes to fruition, Barnett and the UFC will have to agree to terms. While Josh’s interest seems sincere, there is still the issue of a contract, something that has already held things up before.
“I think the right deal just hasn’t put itself together,” said Barnett. “There’s been a lot of good pieces. These promotions have a lot to offer in terms of competition, promotional value, and opportunity to show the fights to a large audience. The fighting part of it, I’m game for all of it. I think it’d be a blast no matter where. But you can’t just run out and start punching people without thinking about the business aspects of it. Between me and my manager, the right scenario just hasn’t presented itself just yet.”
When that scenario does present itself, fight fans will surely be excited to see Barnett enter the ring once more.