Josh Barnett has been out of MMA action for quite some time now. But as of April 1, he is no longer a free agent.
The second degree BJJ black belt last fought in September 2016. The fight came in UFC Hamburg’s main event when he picked up a third-round rear-naked choke victory over Andrei Arlovski.
In December of that same year, Barnett would be flagged by USADA where he would then be put under investigation all the way up until March 2018 when he was issued a public reprimand. This coming after the verification that his test failure was due to unknowingly using a tainted supplement.
A then frustrated Barnett, 41, no longer trusted USADA and would ask for his release from the UFC. His wish would be granted in the following June.
Since then, the Seattle, Washington native has continued performing as a professional wrestler and signed with Bellator MMA as previously alluded to.
Between coaching MMA fighters, professional wrestling, and acting, Josh Barnett is a busy man. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t still itching for a fight.
“I haven’t received any news towards when I’m going to get in the ring next,” Barnett told the We Are RIZIN podcast in regards to his Bellator debut. “And I’m a bit irritated that there’s talk of a RIZIN-Bellator card and my name is not in it. So that’s gotta be fixed. Especially because I still have quite an audience in Japan. I’m still a very top-level guy in terms of MMA and if there’s going to be a card over there with Bellator and I’m not in it then I just can’t imagine that being legit.”
While the former UFC heavyweight champion has been away from the competition aspect of MMA, Bellator and RIZIN have begun aligning for multiple cross-promotional bouts. Of course, it can’t be forgotten that a duration of Barnett’s career was spent overseas in Japan when he competed for PRIDE FC. RIZIN Fighting Federation happens to be run by the same person in Nobuyuki Sakakibara.
The formerly nicknamed “Babyfaced Assasin” has also done plenty of pro wrestling, as well as commentary work for New Japan Pro Wrestling, in said country.
When asked whether or not RIZIN has ever approached him about solely fighting for them in the past, Barnett shared the following.
“Not yet,” he said. “But I also have not even bothered to test those waters so as far as going and fighting in RIZIN, I suppose. I mean, if I’m not fighting in Bellator for any one reason other than scheduling… maybe that’s a possibility.”
In late April after Barnett was signed, Bellator President Scott Coker expressed his thoughts with BJPenn.com on “The Warmaster’s” possible debut fight. A bout that could potentially be a title shot.
“That would be something huh? [Fedor Emelianenko] vs Barnett, the fight that never happened. That would be amazing,” Coker replied when asked about that matchup. “[Barnett getting a title shot for his debut] hasn’t been determined, but I think that his manager was looking for a fight in between that fight and then the title fight. But Josh would like to fight for the title and we’re just trying to work out the schedule because he needs a full camp to train.
“He’s been out for a little bit. But he’s also got some other movie and wrestling obligations. So he’s a very busy guy, but hopefully, we can get him in the cage and have him fight and maybe he’ll get a fight and then if he wins then he can go for the title before the end of the year.”
In reference to a potential matchup with Fedor Emelianenko, that bout was supposed to happen at Affliction III in August 2009. However, 11 days prior to the event Barnett would test positive for anabolic steroids which essentially killed the promotion on the spot.
Looking at how much time is left on the calendar, it’s unlikely that Josh Barnett will end up getting those two fights Coker mentioned by the year’s end.
Drake Riggs is an MMA writer based out of Brush Prairie, Washington, USA who specializes in feature pieces, the women's fight scene, lists, news coverage, and rankings. He has been a passionate fan of MMA ever since 2009. Drake has most notably written for BJPenn.com, FanSided, The Body Lock, South China Morning Post, MyMMANews, Cageside Press, Sherdog, The Scrap, and MMA Today. He has also written for and created video content for RT Sport. As for other sports, Drake is a longtime fan of the NFL's Green Bay Packers and Jacksonville Jaguars.You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @DrakeRiggs_ . Also check out all of his video content on YouTube at: "Drake Riggs" where he uploads fighter interviews, podshows, and various other types of content.