(Josh Barnett vs. Don Frye. Worth it for Don’s entrance music alone.)
What do you do when you’re an American pro fighter who’s been caught using steroids for a remarkable third time? Easy, you go back to Japan where you can do pro wrestling in peace and never have to piss in a cup ever again, except perhaps when the urine samples of celebrities inevitably becomes a hot ticket item among Tokyo businessmen.
It was just last week that Josh Barnett dashed the hopes and dreams of Affliction with his positive pre-licensing steroid test, and already he has a date with a scripted outcome in the Inoki Genome Federation back in Japan on August 9. He still hasn’t addressed the issue of his alleged steroid use beyond that one somewhat strangely worded MySpace post, so his decision to head back to the safe confines of unregulated pseudo-sports will probably be interpreted as further evidence of his guilt.
It is at this point that we pause to ask, is Barnett really and truly done as a serious MMA fighter? The guy is still technically the #2 ranked heavyweight in the world. But if he can’t get a license to fight in the U.S., and can’t find anyone better than fellow positive-popper Antonio Silva to fight in Japan, that will effectively end his run at being a legitimate top heavyweight even if he does take fights outside the pro wrestling sphere.
That’s pretty sad when you think about it. Not that a lot of people were expecting him to beat Fedor Emelianenko, but at the very least he could have gone down in MMA lore as one of the people who did reasonably well against Fedor, and not the man responsible for screwing twenty other fighters out of a paycheck. He could also have been remembered as the guy who only tested positive for steroids twice, which, miraculously, no one really held against him.
Alas, there’s something about that third time that has a way of turning public sentiment against you. So long, Barnett. At least you’ll always have Japan.