Josh Barnett is a very controversial man, for several reasons. First and foremost, his checkered past and history of steroid use has caused him to be completely alienated by a strong contingent of anti-fans. Secondly, Barnett is prone to bizarre interviews where he claims that he wants to decapitate his opponents and drink their blood. One of the biggest rumors surrounding Barnett’s upcoming strikeforce debut in a fight against Brett Rogers was that he wouldn’t be licensed in time and would have to pull out of the fight. It’s now been revealed that that’s not the case, and Barnett recently shared some interesting thoughts on his upcoming opponent. Here are all the details.
First up, we head to MMA Weekly for official confirmation that Josh Barnett has been licensed by the Texas athletic commission to compete at Strikeforce “Overeem vs. Werdum”, which is set to take place this weekend. A representative from the commission told MMA Weekly the following: “Mr. Barnett has met all licensing requirements… He has received a license for his fight this weekend.”
Rumors of Barnett’s removal from the upcoming Strikeforce event were fueled by two things: one, Barnett is still unlicensed to fight in the state of California, and many athletic commissions respect and enforce the bans/suspensions imposed by other athletic commissions. Two, Barnett was cutting it close to the deadline to get all his papers turned in to apply for his fighter’s license.
Speaking to the one and only Sherdog recently, Barnett shared some interesting thoughts on his upcoming opponent and how he sees the Strikeforce World Heavyweight Grand Prix. Here are some highlights: “I’m going to put [Brett Rogers] somewhere that he doesn’t want to be no matter what… Plain and simple, I’m the best fighter in this tournament. I’ve got the most experience. … I’ve been fighting longer. I’ve been in the sport longer… I’ve got the biggest skill set and I think I’ve got the best overall, all-around ability and I’m just the meanest, angriest, most bloodthirsty bastard out of them all.”
As always, I find myself conflicted when it comes to Josh Barnett. Back in the day, back when he was scheduled to face Fedor Emelianenko, a lot of people believed that Barnett represented the last great, legitimate threat to “The Last Emperor”. And to be honest, I also held that opinion. But then Barnett got caught with steroids once again, and his actions were a huge piece of the puzzle that ultimately led to the short-lived Affliction promotion going belly-up.
So, what to do with Josh Barnett? In all honesty, I think the best thing to do is what Strikeforce is doing: try to get him to fight, see if he stays clean, and reap the rewards of Josh Barnett fighting at his best. Because make no mistake, Barnett is easily a Top 10 Heavyweight when all cylinders are firing and nothing illegal is coursing through his system. He’s a bizarre man, a controversial man, but at times he can be one hell of a fighter.
But how many second chances does Barnett deserve, really? I suppose the only realistic answer is “as many as other MMA promotions are willing to give him”. Barnett doesn’t have many bridges left to burn… but there are some important ones still intact, and if you can believe it, some of the bridges he burned with the UFC may be in the process of being rebuilt. So who knows what the future holds for Josh Barnett? I suppose we just have to wait and see.