Enigmatic heavyweight Josh Barnett isn't headed to the UFC after all, according to a report by MMAJunkie.com.
Barnett's manager told MMAjunkie that his client and the UFC had reached a "sticking point" in their negotiations, and that he and Barnett have now pursued "a discussion with every major organization you've heard of and some you haven't."
Barnett has long been considered one of the best heavyweights in the world—and one of the few truly great fighters outside of the UFC. His presence in the Strikeforce heavyweight division helped to legitimize the now-defunct organization.
Once it was announced that Zuffa, the UFC's parent company which purchased Strikeforce in March 2011, was finally shutting down Strikeforce, rampant speculation began as to Barnett's fate.
Barnett once fought in the UFC, where he defeated Randy Couture for the organization's heavyweight championship. However, this bout was overturned when Barnett tested positive for banned substances.
Barnett subsequently left to pursue MMA and professional wrestling in Japan, becoming a star in Pride and in various pro wrestling promotions.
But the banned substances weren't part of why the UFC was out of the Josh Barnett business for so many years. UFC president Dana White wasn't particularly fond of the catch wrestling star.
In 2007, White said the following about Barnett:
[Barnett]'s just a punk. You know what? The thing is I don't want to even talk about Josh Barnett. Nobody even cares about Josh Barnett...I'm not interested in Josh Barnett at all as far as who he is as a person or as a fighter or how he represents the sport. I don't like anything about him.
If he's that talented and that great, then great, let Bodog or IFL or EliteProXC or whatever the hell the name of the rest of those companies -- let one of them sign him. If he's that great -- they're always trying to get a leg up on me, sign Josh Barnett you guys! He'll do wonders for your business.
Six years later, the cooler side of White's bald head had apparently prevailed. There was talk of Barnett finally back in the UFC. The heavyweight division would get a shot in the arm.
Now, the outlook is doubtful. Where Barnett will go now is a mystery.
The resurgent Bellator seems likely at first, but Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney already nixed that idea. Perhaps Barnett will end up at the newly created World Series of Fighting—the winner of Andrei Arlovski vs. Anthony Johnson will need someone to fight, after all.
Time will tell what happens to Josh Barnett. Either he'll finally have another chance to test himself against the world's best heavyweights, or he'll fade away into old age and obscurity while crushing Japanese pro wrestlers.
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