While Strikeforce tournament champion Daniel Cormier is set to make his long awaited UFC debut, the future of heavyweight Josh “The Warmaster” Barnett remains uncertain.
Barnett, who defeated Nandor Guelmino two minutes into the first round with an arm triangle choke at the promotion’s final event, was beginning his run in Strikeforce when the promotion had been bought by Zuffa in 2011 and was one of the participants in the heavyweight grand prix tournament. He managed to make it to the finals before losing to Cormier by result of decision.
Although it has been almost nine years since he stepped inside of the octagon, Barnett has voiced his desire to return to the UFC once again. With a record of 31-6 and being recognized as one of the more popular stars of mixed martial arts, Barnett deserves to at least get one last fight inside of the octagon.
Barnett had previously fought in the UFC from 2000-2002. After going 1-1 in his first two fights, the Warmaster tore through Semmy Schilt and Bobby Hoffman before defeating Randy Couture for the UFC heavyweight title. At the time Barnett became the UFC’s youngest champion at 25 years old, but his reign would be short and tainted as Barnett failed a post-fight drug test.
Barnett would spend much of his career fighting in Japan and fans gave up the idea of seeing the Warmaster in the UFC. After Zuffa bought Strikeforce, Barnett posted a picture on his Twitter of him standing next to UFC President Dana White with the caption “I guess Hell froze over.”
While Barnett failed a drug test back in 2002, there have been numerous UFC fighters who have come up dirty in tests, only to return a year later. In 2003 Tim Sylvia failed a post-fight drug test and was stripped of his heavyweight title. He won the belt back three years later.
Barnett’s size and grappling skills could a challenge for most fighters in the UFC’s heavyweight division. A match with someone like Frank Mir, Fabricio Werdum or Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira would be a barn burner on the canvas.
While Barnett has earned his status as a legend in MMA, a victory in the octagon could lead to a run that earns him a spot in the hall of fame.
Who would you like Barnett to fight in a UFC match? Answer with a comment below or send a tweet to @alstover with the hashtag #RantMMA.