(If you can’t beat [a drug test], join [a Japanese pro-wrestling organization])
It turns out that "The Babyfaced Assassin," who was denied licensure in California last year due to a positive steroid test prior to his Affliction showdown with Fedor Emelianenko and was subsequently blamed for the promotion’s collapse by its president Tom Attencio, is stepping away from MMA and is going back to his pro wrestling roots. Barnett is said to have signed a longterm deal to "compete" under retired Japanese MMA fighter, pro wrestler and onetime Muhammad Ali opponent Antonio Inoki’s IGF (Inoki Genome Federation) banner in Japan.
The 32-year-old, who has performed on IGF cards sporadically over the past two years and last faced Bob Sapp at a show in February, will have a "ranking match" (not sure how rankings work when the outcome of the bouts are predetermined) against Yoshihiro Takyama on May 9th at the Osaka Prefectural Gym, in Osaka, Japan. Arnold’s report says that the organization is planning on building Barnett up as the face of promotion.
It may be just a coincidence that athletes suspended for drug use gravitate towards the company, but Shinichi Wakakirin, a Japanese Sumo wrestler who was busted for marijuana possession and banned from competing in the sport last year will be making his IGF debut at the May event.
Whatever the case may be, Inoki has found the perfect heel in Barnett, without even having to create a back-story. I’d suggest changing his nickname to something more flashy, though, like "The Promotion Killer" or "Hot Piss".