Strikeforce Heavyweight Josh Barnett has not lost a fight since 2006. He has a career record of 31-5 with 19 of those wins coming by submission.
As Barnett heads into the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Final on Saturday night against Daniel Cormier (9-0), the buzz about whether or not he deserves to be back in the UFC has started to pick up once again.
"The Warmaster", as Barnett now likes to be called, was kicked out of the UFC in 2002 after he tested positive for a banned substance following his win over Randy Couture. He subsequently failed two more drug tests later on in his career.
"All of us are going to make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. It's how you deal with those mistakes. You take a guy like Josh Barnett. This guy's tested positive three times and denies every time that he's taken steroids, okay? He comes out with an interview last week basically saying, 'I don't care about anybody else; the only person I care about is myself. I got some fans out there and thanks for following me or whatever, but I'm not fighting for you. I'm fighting for me and I'm doing everything for me.' This is a guy who single-handedly put a company out of business -- single handedly put a company out of business for doing what he was doing and has zero remorse for it. Couldn't care less. [He's like,] 'I don't care that you bought tickets to that fight and were planning on going. I don't care that Fedor flew all the way in from Russia to fight me and trained and spent his own money to do this. I don't care that this company, Affliction, believed in me and was allowing me to make a living and I put them out of business. All I care about is me. Those are the guys that I have zero tolerance for. And that's why he's not in the UFC and never will be."
Dana has always been respected for how he comes out and says what's on his mind. He is generally not a man who wavers on his decisions, but after blasting Barnett a couple of years ago, this is what he had to say just last month:
"Josh and I have been playing nice with each other for a little while, since he got into the UFC. It's more than just, 'Does he win? Does he doe 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."
Dana's flip-flopped stance on Barnett would make any politician envious. The difference here is that MMA fans have also learned to forgive and forget to make the sport as interesting as possible.
Unlike other sports, it appears people in the MMA world are more forgiving if an athlete fails a drug test once, twice, or in this case, three times.
There are, however, stricter drug testing procedures in the UFC now compared to when Barnett was last in the UFC (2002).
If Barnett is clean, and somehow learned from his mistakes, the UFC could certainly use his talent and charisma going forward.