As a writer who has made a career out of doing interviews and features, I have come to learn that timing means everything. When fighters are locked in the repetitive media grind of fight week or in the middle of cutting weight, there are times when getting through a basic pre-fight interview can be a grueling affair for both parties involved.
Unfortunately, with the hectic schedule of recent years, sometimes those chaotic, fading moments surrounding fight week are the only windows of opportunity to get the quotes you need for a story.
Before the interview ever takes place, you know the fighter you are about to speak with has been asked a variation of the same 10 questions over and over and is heading into your phone call dreading to hear those questions asked one more time save for a different voice on the line. Out of this scenario, the "Atypical Pre-Fight Interview" was born.
As writers, we understand the reality of this situation, but the pre-fight interview is a necessary evil, and that is why the fighters involved sit through a storm of them. But every person involved in the process approaches the situation differently, and when a unique scenario opens up, a beautiful dance into the obscure can be had.
In this regard, there is no better dance partner than Josh Barnett. The former UFC heavyweight champion and lover of all things metal is a master of his domain under the spotlight. "The Warmaster" can melt a microphone on cue and marches to the beat of his own drum—his own double-kick, rapid-fire bass drum.
In an era where mixed martial arts has moved to a realm of athletic competition, the savvy veteran celebrates the gritty nature of the fight. Where most intend to give the fans in attendance a tussle worth remembering, Barnett sees an area of frenzied, battle-hungry minions who are there to be entertained in the storied ways of the gladiator.
With that in mind, how could a typical run-of-the-mill interview suffice? The only way to go forward into the fray with the man formerly recognized as "The Baby-Faced Assassin" is to pull out the Death Angel shirt, punch a hole in the drywall and dive in. This process produced magic on our last go around, and here is what transpired in the latest installment.
After years waging war in foreign lands, you finally made your return to the UFC in 2013 where you defeated Frank Mir at UFC 164 in Milwaukee. It was an impressive performance, and you are heading into another big fight against Travis Browne at UFC 168. Has this been an ideal year for you in terms of career progression?
I think it's been pretty good. I worked on my first movie and won a couple of fights...that's never a bad thing. Anytime you get paid to go out there, punch somebody's lights out and make some money doing so, it's a good time and something worth putting a gold star on the calendar for. The best part about it is that it's not even over yet. Who knows what could happen?
For your last fight, you had a variation of the hawk working in the hair department and an above average beard game. Do you feel those elements help you obtain your full warrior mystique rolling heading into this next fight?
I'm adding a loin clothe, chain mail, a gauntlet, bracers and a helmet. I don't know how the NSAC is going to feel about that, but I can't stand not bringing my battle axe to the ring.
In our previous interview, you voice some concern about the post-fight aftermath with Mir. You said you were worried the Sirens in the stands would attempt to lure your crotch to its doom. While you are undoubtedly here talking with me today, I'm curious how you survived and navigated the road beyond Milwaukee.
I was absolutely successful in that regard. My genitalia is yet to fall off, and I was able to avoid their clutches once more. The harpies are always just around the corner, and last time, I narrowly escaped. They always hover overhead, and I must have been just out of distance.
Your next challenge will come against Travis Browne—a fighter who has been one of the heavyweight division's most touted prospects. What is your thoughts on this matchup with the rangy Hawaiian striker?
I hope he's not ready. That would be really unfortunate.
Throughout your career—and definitely in your bout with Mir—you've shown that you aren't willing to wait around for the action to happen. You come out and get right to it, charging across the cage and imposing your will. Browne is a fighter who uses his length very well and has found a lot of success working at a distance. Is closing that distance and taking away those weapons how the job gets done at UFC 168?
I'm going to use the same philosophy in that last fight against Mir and imagine his head is a giant maple bar and just go after it. I mean...I wouldn't let a doughnut run from me for nothing.
There is a lot of talk of the winner of this fight being in line for a potential title shot. You've been there and done that in that regard, but I have to think the thought of a title opportunity has to be appealing to you. Granted, I could be wrong, but at this point of your career, are those elements of the game appealing to you? Or is every fight just another fight and whatever comes after just an added bonus?
You know...at this point, I'm just over all the titles, bobbles and trappings of ceremony and such. Honestly, at a very young age, I was already crowned the "Burger King," and they gave me the jeweled crown of gold. Granted, it was cardboard but still gold colored. Ever since then, it's really been more difficult to deal with the common folk in a way that isn't so removed. But at this point in my life, I've been exposed to countless jewels and riches, and you just get bored of it.
So, if I understand this correctly, defeating Browne will just add one more skull to the pile the throne sits on and be one more time into the fray? Is that how it works?
That is absolutely how it works. My table is actually uneven, and I need something to balance it out properly.
Duane Finley is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes are obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise.