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Business as Usual: Josh Barnett Forced to Cancel Pro Wrestling Gig Against Jerome Le Banner Due to Zuffa Pressure

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(Sorry, kids. Christmas is canceled this year.)

Josh Barnett is currently scheduled to face Sergei Kharitonov in the semi-finals of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix, September 10th in Cincinnati. He was also scheduled to face kickboxing legend Jerome Le Banner in an August 27th pro-wrestling match for IGF in Japan, because he’s Josh Barnett, and fake-fighting dudes that he could just as easily fight for real is what he does, damn it.

But while that sort of thing wouldn’t have batted an eye under Scott Coker’s droopy watch, Zuffa runs a much tighter ship, and won’t run the risk of Barnett suffering an injury in a worked puroresu match two weeks before he has to show up for a legit cage-fight. As Fighters Only reports:

…Barnett has been prevailed upon not to take the gig which, despite being a pre-determined pro-wrestling match rather than a proper fight, could still potentially have resulted in him picking up an injury…With Alistair Overeem having already been removed from the semi-finals thanks to an injury/contract dispute, it would have been disastrous had Barnett been forced out as well.

The August 27th IGF card is still going ahead in Japan. Aside from LeBanner it also features Peter Aerts and Ray Sefo. Why anybody would want to see real fighters having pretend fights is beyond us, but pro-wrestling gigs pay well in Japan and with K-1 on hiatus, these kind of gigs are a good earner for name fighters.

So in a strange turn of fate, Josh Barnett has become the biggest star remaining in Strikeforce’s heavyweight tournament — the other semi-finalists are Kharitonov, Antonio Silva, and Daniel Cormier, for God’s sake — and Zuffa actually needs him. Funny how things work out.

The September 10th Strikeforce show will also feature Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza’s latest middleweight title defense against Luke Rockhold, Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal’s return against Roger Gracie, and a lightweight feature between Josh Thomson and former Sengoku stunner Maximo Blanco.

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2Dogs- August 24, 2011 at 7:34 am
LMAO! pic quote of the year!
XENOPHON- August 24, 2011 at 12:52 am
Not with the UFC in full motion right now in an upswing, your right they don't need Barnett. The UFC is on a peak right now, and the thing with peaks, is there is the inevitable trough that comes around...and people usually fail to see the down swing
I see the UFC similar to the auto racing. Some racers only drive one car all year around the same track, while others work several types of cars, on a variety of tracks.
Some may think the UFC is some kind of stamp of approval, but from a fighters point of the stock market, real estate, or religion, its throwing all the eggs in one basket most risky.
It's sometimes a better strategy to be kinetic as opposed to being static with just one promotion. Another words, It's safer to have ten revenue streams than just one.
Looking at from another way, in the case of religion, some people believe its smart to bet their life on just 1 book, when in fact 130,000,000 million other books exist.
Since Barnett (and Rheem plus others) must have clauses in their StirkeFarce contracts that let them compete elsewhere, and it seems that Barnett is going to pass on side show wrestling gig in Japan - Barnett is telegraphing that what's his financial honey pot at age 33, now lays with the static.
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GistoftheFist- August 23, 2011 at 6:39 pm

That's ma purse! I don't know yew!
The_Dead_Cow- August 23, 2011 at 5:29 pm
They totally need Barnett, he said by the time the tourney was done he'd be standing atop a pile of bodies with all the gold. I really wanna see that shit. Overeem or not, Barnett will win the HWGP. Fuck the haters, you guys.
Gobbleston- August 23, 2011 at 4:21 pm
They might not care about the HWGP standing or outcome, but I'm pretty sure they care about the brand they purchased and the viewership they would lose if Josh Barnett dropped out of the tournament. He already tanked one orginization. Losing Marquardt? Replacable. Losing Barnett? No show.
Chri534.- August 23, 2011 at 1:54 pm
My point was that they don't 'need' any fighter, let alone Josh Barnett. And people like Alistair who think they have all of this negotiating leverage should realize that they're not in the position to sit and call their own shots when it comes to participating in outside events.

Bringing up Marquardt was just an example of someone that upset Zuffa more than Barnett would by not competing. Dude pulled out of an event with his name in the title the day before it was set to go down.

Do you actually think they care how the HWGP plays out? If anything, they're probably hoping Barnett would pull some prima donna shit and get himself removed.
MoonBelly- August 23, 2011 at 1:14 pm
How is Marquardt needed in any form? He was a #2 (at best) middleweight trying to "reinvent" himself at 170. If Strikeforce is actually going to continue to do this HWGP then they NEED Josh for 2 more fights. Who else are you going to tune in to see?
Fried Taco- August 23, 2011 at 1:10 pm
Since it's not going to happen, can they just tell us who would've won anyway?
Viva Hate- August 23, 2011 at 12:58 pm
Wait, I thought he was facing Randy Savage and Big Boss Man in a triple threat match at Summerslam?
Chri534.- August 23, 2011 at 12:51 pm
Did Sodak write this? Zuffa doesn't need him. No fighter runs the show. Hell, they needed Marquardt a lot more than they need Barnett here.
The_Dead_Cow- August 23, 2011 at 12:44 pm
Don't touch me, that's my purse!!!