MMA fans have been puzzled as to why Josh Barnett walked away from the UFC’s recent contract offer. It turns out Barnett’s fear of facing MMA’s most devastating striker is the likely answer.
Barnett, who is widely regarded as the best heavyweight outside of the UFC, completed his contract with Stikeforce on Jan. 6. A short time later, Barnett wrote on his Facebook page his desire to sign a deal with the UFC.
“I would love to be in the UFC fighting in the Octagon again being back on the mat where I won the heavyweight title 11 years ago,” Barnett stated. “It’s the biggest promotion, with the most exposure, and the best heavyweight division. Plus it’s abundantly clear – it’s where you guys want to see me fighting.”
In response, UFC President Dana White declared his intention to sign Barnett during an episode of “UFC Tonight” on Fuel TV.
“We are talking to Josh Barnett right now,” White said. “Yes, we’re open to bringing him into the UFC. It’s about making a deal now.”
Everything seemed in place for Barnett’s return to the Octagon.
Ten days ago, however, Barnett’s agent, Leland LaBarre, stated his client’s intention to walk away from the UFC’s offer.
According to Labarre, the monetary terms of the offer were acceptable, but there was one condition Barnett was hesitant to accept.
“There are outlying issues–one in particular–that we were unable to agree on,” Labarre stated in an interview with MMA Fighting.
Labarre refused to disclose what the sticking point was. White, however, shed some light on the situation while speaking with a group of reporters at UFC on Fuel TV 7.
When asked who Barnett was to be matched with for his first fight under the new UFC contract, White replied, “Junior Dos Santos.”
Barnett was likely looking for a tune-up fight in his return to the UFC. Instead, he got matched against a former UFC champion who is known to have the most devastating knockout power in the sport.
Barnett may be playing it safe at this point in his career. Unfortunately, there are no easy fights in the UFC, which means Barnett will likely continue his career outside of the world’s premier MMA promotion.