(C’mon, what’s the worst that could happen? PicProps: MMA Gear Guide)
If you’re Strikeforce, this ought to make you pretty nervous. I mean, the last time Josh Barnett started angling toward a fight with Fedor Emelianenko it spelled the beginning of the end for the previous group of jokers who tried to take on the UFC. Nonetheless, the heavyweight fighter the fans love to hate went on MMA Weekly radio this week and said he still intends to make a fight with Emelianenko come to fruition, assumedly inside the Strikeforce cage.
"I’m sure it will happen at some point,” Barnett said during the on-air appearance. “And it will be just as amazing, at least for me anyways, as it would have been."
OK, first things first – yes — it would still be a pretty cool fight. Two of the world’s best heavyweights finally settling the score after their first scheduled meeting failed to materialize. Nothing wrong with that. But what’s most telling to me about this quote is that Barnett stops talking right when things are about to get interesting.
He seems on the verge of saying something substantial here. A present-day meeting between Fedor and Barnett would “be just as amazing as before …” what exactly? Before Fedor flung himself into that triangle choke back in June? Before the third positive steroid test of Barnett’s career? Before Barnett basically took the last year and a half off, aside from crushing a couple of cans in places where we can only assume the drug testing was nonexistent? If that’s what he means, then: No. No, we have to respectfully disagree here. A potential fight between these two guys would most certainly not be as amazing as it would have been before all that.
But it would still be good. And that’s why I can’t help but hope against hope that it will actually happen. And that’s also why Barnett remains one of the most intriguing (read: maddening) talents in MMA. I’ve always wanted so badly to like him, and he’s always made it so hard.
For my own sake, I like to imagine that somewhere out there exists a JJ Abrams-style alternate universe where Barnett did not squander his potential as the biggest star in American mixed martial arts. Where he didn’t continually test positive for PEDs. Where he didn’t seem kind of lukewarm on the whole idea of MMA to begin with. A universe where likewise Emelianenko’s career wasn’t controlled by a cadre of shady Russian businessmen. Where he didn’t also seem to suffer from the same fits and starts of ambition and boredom that have plagued Barnett’s career. In that universe, yeah, this fight would be amazing.
In our universe, it still has the potential to be a damn good CBS main event for Strikeforce. Either that, or it will be the last thing that promotion ever does …