Former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett left the UFC in disgrace over ten years ago. Barnett has stayed active and is currently one win away from not only earning the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix but quite possibly a return to the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
UFC president Dana White broke the news this week and while it isn’t shocking, it is still a bit of a surprise. White addressed the rumor that Barnett would head back to the UFC if he defeats Daniel Cormier on May 19.
This isn’t the first time that White has flirted with the idea of bringing back the eccentric heavyweight. White casually mentioned interest in bringing back Barnett a few years ago if he was able to defeat Fedor Emelianenko in their scheduled Affliction bout. The fight was canceled, Barnett has since competed in Strikeforce, yet the door appears to be open.
Barnett left the UFC in disgrace over ten years ago. Barnett was stripped of the UFC heavyweight championship after defeating Randy Couture at UFC 36 in March 2002. Barnett tested positive for three performance enhancing drugs. Barnett later tested positive again in 2009 10 days before the scheduled fight with Emelianenko. Barnett sat out of U.S. competition for 2 ½ years due to the license complications after the failed test.
Barnett returned with a vengeance in 2011 as part of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament. Barnett destroyed Brett Rogers in the opening round by submission. Barnett moved to for an even more dominant performance in the second round against Sergei Kharitonov. Barnett won the second fight with a second submission win, but this time in the opening round.
I tend to think that Barnett would get a UFC deal win or lose against Cormier. He is a Dana White guy in the sense that Barnett knows how to promote a fight. I think Barnett will win against the less experienced Cormier, but Cormier is certainly no pushover.
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