Much of the contention from White's side stems from the fact that Barnett tested positive for steroids after winning the UFC heavyweight title back at UFC 36. A single steroid failure would normally be fine, even for a champion. You'll be stripped of your title, but you'll get a chance to regain it after you serve your suspension. All you really need to do is admit your guilt and apologize; a little remorse goes a long way.
But remorse—or an admission of guilt—is the one thing we're likely never going to get from Barnett. Multiple drug failures has shown that to be true. And Barnett has fired back at White through the years like few others are willing to do, calling him a "hindrance" and saying a "trained monkey" could do White's job.
However, things seem to be getting better between White and Barnett. The pair were photographed together during last summer's annual Fight Summit in Las Vegas, and White has come out in support of a Barnett move to the UFC after the conclusion of the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix:
The way that Showtime wants to do it is when that fight finally happens, whoever wins it, they wanna do another fight on Showtime. That guy would probably come to the UFC. We'll see what happens, you know?
Josh and I have been playing nice with each other for a little while, ever since he got into the UFC. It's more than just, does he win, does he do this? You gotta be able to come to terms with the guy and be able to deal with him. If he wins the fight, I can't see why he wouldn't come here, unless we weren't able to make a deal with him.
I think Barnett will get a crack at the UFC's heavyweight roster in 2012, no matter what happens in the finals of the heavyweight grand prix. They brought over the rest of the Strikeforce heavyweight roster, and those fighters didn't even make the finals. Some of them didn't even make it out of the first round. White is hinting that coming to a deal has very little to do with him actually winning the tournament.
Barnett's place in the UFC is secure, and rightly so. And he seems to actually want another chance in the world's biggest fight promotion, which means he'll be much more willing to sit down and make a deal than he would have been, oh, four years ago.
The one hold-up, as I see it, will be Barnett's pro wrestling career. I can't imagine White allowing Barnett to continue working matches in Japan—at least not on a regular basis—so Barnett will have a choice to make: Continue professional wrestling or finally creating and cementing a real mixed martial arts legacy in the UFC.