Josh Barnett vs. Fedor Emelianenko is one of MMA’s biggest fights that got away — but what if it didn’t have to?
The pair of heavyweight legends were originally set to clash in 2009 under the short-lived Affliction banner. Fast-forward 12 years and they’re both in the same promotion once again as Emelianenko has his next bout set for October at Bellator’s first show in Russia.
All that’s missing is “The Last Emperor’s” dance partner.
“I would say, for the most part, that’s what I’m interested in — getting that fight with Fedor,” Barnett told BJPenn.com regarding what he has left for him in MMA. “That’s a fight worth having. That’s a fight that’s not got a lot of time to be made left to happen.
“It would really suck [if the fight doesn’t happen] (laughs). I hope that’s not going to be the case. Honestly, it sounds even more fun to do it in Russia.”
Josh Barnett (35-8) hasn’t stepped foot into an MMA enclosure since September 2016 when becoming the first man to submit fellow former UFC heavyweight champion, Andrei Arlovski. Barnett’s UFC departure came off the heels of what was originally a USADA suspension that ended after being publically reprimanded.
Bellator 241 on March 13 was supposed to mark the promotional debut for “The Warmaster.” Unfortunately, Barnett was forced to withdraw a day before his bout with Ronny Markes due to an illness.
Additionally, like many other MMA legends have begun doing in recent years, Barnett also participated in his first bare-knuckle boxing match in October 2020. Taking on former KSW heavyweight champion Marcin Różalski, Barnett earned the victory after Różalski could no longer compete at the end of round two.
“It was a blast,” Barnett said of the match. “Honestly, the reason I did it was it just felt like an adventure. That was part of the reason I even got into MMA — to go out there and challenge the world and kind of be like a street fighter character or someone from a pro wrestling mindset traveling the world and competing. It was so awesome to just again feel like that was what I was doing and the danger of getting your face rearranged fighting bare-knuckle again like we used to in the beginning felt pretty exciting.
“I had a great opponent, the company, KSW putting it on through Genesis, their bare-knuckle promotion, it was a wonderful moment. I was taken great care of. Yeah, it was a blast. I thought they had a great show.”
Whether or not we ever see Barnett back in MMA remains to be seen. It’s clear what he wants, and that’s to be one of Emelianenko’s final opponents before the Russian icon hangs up his gloves for good.
As for more bare-knuckle action, don’t rule it out just yet.
“I don’t know, I mean, yeah Quite possibly. It could happen,” Barnett added.This article appeared first on BJPENN.COM