The courtship didn’t last long after Josh Barnett completed his Strikeforce contract last month. UFC President Dana White indicated on multiple occasions that the promotion was interested in signing Barnett but a deal needed to be worked out.
However, Ariel Helwani reports that Josh Barnett has declined the latest offer from the UFC and will not sign with the promotion according to Barnett’s manager Leland LaBarre:
“We agreed on guaranteed compensation. In fact, we never even countered. We accepted their original offer. However, there are some outlying issues — one in particular — that as of this point we were unable to agree on.”
Barnett has a background in professional wrestling and has hinted at wanting to be able to do different things while also fighting in MMA. In fact, his last Strikeforce contract allowed him to participate in professional wrestling matches in Japan.
I’m only speculating, but if money wasn’t the issue, exclusivity may have played a role in the negotiations.
Barnett was a quality heavyweight that would have added much needed depth in a division that’s in utter chaos now that Alistair Overeem was knocked out in a huge upset by Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva. Many thought that Barnett signing with the UFC was inevitable, but it’ll be interesting to see where Barnett goes next.
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