(UFC President Dana White revealed the organization’s previous plans for Barnett during a media scrum last weekend)
According to Dana White, nomadic heavyweight Josh Barnett not only turned down an opportunity to fight in the UFC again for the first time in a decade, he also turned down a chance to jump right into title contention. Barnett is 1-1 in his last two bouts — rebounding with a first-round submission victory over Nandor Guelmino last month following his decision loss to Daniel Cormier in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix finals — but White said Saturday that if his promotion had been able to sign Barnett, they would have immediately pitted him against fellow former heavyweight champ Junior Dos Santos.
According to SB Nation, White said that the standard exclusivity component of the proposed UFC contract was the sticking point that Barnett had with the organization’s offer. Barnett has not announced any other plans for his MMA career and White went out of his way to say that he didn’t think the fighter was hesitant to face Dos Santos or any other particular fighter, so perhaps the two sides are still negotiating.
“I’m sure Josh Barnett wouldn’t care (who he fought),” White said after the UFC on Fuel 7 card in England this past Saturday. ”Josh Barnett is a fly by the seat of his pants kind of guy, he does his own thing, beats to his own fucking drum. Josh Barnett’s never been a guy to say I don’t want to fight this guy or I won’t fight that guy. He’s not that type of person.”
So, are we to assume that Josh Barnett just really, really, wants to do some more Japanese pro wrestling? Considering how well he still fights, it would be nice to see Barnett get back to finishing the business he started in the UFC before getting popped for steroids and losing his title eleven years ago.
Cormier is certainly a top contender, and though he beat Barnett, the “Warmaster” looked as sharp and quick as he ever has in that bout. The catch wrestler can still compete with the best in the world and it would have been great to see how he fared against Dos Santos.
For now, Dos Santos and Alistair Overeem are both being rushed back into training and fighting despite getting their brains battered recently, and are scheduled to fight one another at UFC 160. Hopefully the bright, weird lights of Japanese pro wrestling or whatever else Barnett wanted to do in addition to fighting for the UFC won’t ultimately stand in the way of him continuing to fight the best in the world.
Or, I guess he could face the winner of this match: