The UFC has taken another of the big name ‘free agent’ fighters off the market by inking former UFC Heavyweight Champion Josh Barnett to a multi fight deal. Barnett last fought in the UFC back in March of 2002 (UFC 36) when he defeated Randy Couture for the Heavyweight title, only to be stripped of the title because of a failed PED test.
Barnett was on the STRIKEFORCE roster, but was without a contract and he did not go to UFC in the SF roster migration. Barnett chose to explore all his options before looking at the UFC.
What Barnett found in terms of options was likely pretty slim. Bellator, the number 2 company in MMA at this time, would not spend the money on Barnett, who would be a diamond in a pile of dung in their Heavyweight division. Overseas, options are limited as well, so it was inevitable that Barnett wind up back in the UFC. It will be interesting to see if Barnett curtails his extra UFC activities (such as pro wrestling) for the life of this contract, as the UFC is not likely to bend on that area of the contract.
Once in the UFC, he will be an excellent addition and fits in near the top of the division. The UFC has a slew of heavyweight fights coming up on the calendar and Barnett offers a lot of options for the future.
Aside from the heavyweight battles scheduled for this weekend at UFC 160, the match coming up between Rodrigo Noguiera and Fabricio Werdum in the coaches battle of ‘TUF’ Brazil is one that has been under the radar but is a clash of top fighters. Barnett could be lined up to face the winner. Should Werdum win, it gives both men a serious challenge in their next fight, and could leave the winner of Werdum vs Barnett ready for a title shot.
Should Noguiera win against Werdum, it puts Barnett in what would be a 3rd meeting with Noguiera for Barnett, with the pair being 1-1 so far. Time for the UFC to dust off that old PRIDE library they have sitting their collecting dust.