Josh Barnett (29-5) has long been considered one of the best heavyweights in MMA. His two-fight stint with Affliction in 2008-2009 brought the Baby-Faced Assassin back to fighting on U.S. soil for the first time in many years and his scheduled fight with Fedor Emelianenko could have shot him instantly to the top of the heavyweight ranks if he would have won.
It became one of the most anticipated heavyweight bouts in the history of the sport. However, Barnett tested positive for steroids and the fight never materialized. Because it was his third time to test positive during his professional career, as good of a fighter as he is, there will always be the proverbial asterisk by his name. It’s a dark shadow over an otherwise illustrious career.
With Barnett’s recent signing to Strikeforce, he is back in a position and among a level of heavyweight talent, where he can make the biggest positive impact on his career since his days in PRIDE. He spoke about his reasons for signing with Strikeforce in a recent interview published on MMA Weekly:
“I spoke with several other companies prior to this, and what kind of visibility they were able to offer, and what they could offer in terms of opponents, and just keeping me active, my ability to do work outside of fighting, or even just fighting outside of that company, or professional wrestling work, or if I wanted to do any TV or movie work. — When it comes down to it, the thing that matters most to me is being able to fight. I just want to make sure I can get out there and crack as many heads as possible.”
Barnett said the high visibility Strikeforce gets through broadcasting on Showtime and possibly CBS was a big motivator. Then things get a little weird:
“It matters big time. Cause when I dislocate and tear somebody’s head completely off their shoulders and spew blood all over the ring, and then drink it, I want the whole world to see it. — I’d love to fight on CBS. Punch somebody so hard that their eyeballs pop out of their head.”
“”We haven’t really hit on any solid dates yet or anything like that, or even opponents. — There’s not too many people all that chomping at the bit and so ready to meet their death.”
Obviously Barnett is being dramatic when he talks about tearing someone’s head off and the blood spewing all over the ring and he drinks it. That’s pretty over-the-top, a bit WWE-ish and maybe a little funny, but inevitably his talk about death in the cage is going to be considered by some as going too far.
In this day and age when there have been deaths in the sport and it’s still in the process of getting legalized in New York and other states and areas of the world, talk like this is not going to help, that’s for sure. Whether it will hurt or not remains to be seen.
As for someone who’s now been popped multiple times for steroids, maybe the idea of a clean image seems like a lost cause.