Dana White told a group of reporters in Montreal yesterday that Josh Barnett would likely be returning to the UFC. When initially asked if he could give an update on Barnett’s status with the UFC, White replied with a grin and stated, “I know what’s going on, but I can’t tell you yet.” Upon further prodding on whether he wants to see Barnett in the UFC, White finally replied, “It’s probably going to happen.”
Barnett, who has a rocky history with the UFC, needs to jump at this opportunity. Barnett last fought for the UFC way back in 2002 at UFC 32. While headlining that card, Barnett defeated Randy Couture for the heavyweight title. A short time later, Barnett tested positive for several banned substances and had his title stripped. Since departing the UFC, Barnett has bounced around 10 different fight promotions, accumulating a post-UFC record of 19-5.
In 2008, Barnett once again tested positive for banned substances, which led to the cancellation of the Affliction promotion’s final event. He is now an aging 35-year-old fighter and showing the effects of his 38 career fights. Barnett’s lopsided loss to Daniel Cormier in the Strikeforce Grand Prix Final showed most fans that he is no longer among of the best heavyweights in the world.
A second chance in in the UFC would be a blessing for Barnett. He remains a favorite among hardcore MMA fans, mainly due to his domination while fighting in Japan. However, when comparing his marketability to that of many current UFC heavyweights, Barnett is at a disadvantage since many casual fans do not know who he is.
Barnett has also expressed interest in a professional wrestling career after he retires from fighting. This would be difficult to achieve with his current lack of name recognition. Signing with the UFC would give his celebrity status an immediate boost by having the UFC hype-machine building him up before his fights.
Even if he loses and gets cut from the promotion, Barnett could still parlay his UFC fame into a wrestling career, much like Quinton “Rampage” Jackson is expected to after his UFC contract expires this Saturday.
Since being stripped of his title 10 years ago, Barnett has been vocal about his dislike for White and UFC. However, at this stage of his career, Barnett needs to squash that beef for the good of his future career goals.