In the June 4 edition of the Wrestling Observer, Dave Meltzer reported that Josh Barnett felt insulted after he asked the UFC for tickets to UFC 71 and was told to buy them on his own. Meltzer is usually on the money but it appears he may have gotten some bad info in regard to this one instance because in a recent interview on the Internet audio show “The Clinch,” Barnett tells a completely different story.
In the interview, which apparently was conducted in Las Vegas right after UFC 71, Barnett was asked about how his relationship with Dana White was doing and he said “It’s going great.” Barnett also added that he showed up for UFC 71 with no tickets and that White put him in the front row. In addition to speaking with White, Barnett also said he spoke to the Fertittas and that he feels there’s now a mutual understanding when it comes “to making business.”
When asked about doing business with the UFC, he said that there’s a difference in the vision of how he believes MMA should be and their vision, but that ” as far as me as a fighter and them as a promoter, I think we get along just fine.”
When asked if the UFC might be the next place where he’ll fight, he said it’s definitely “a possibility and not far-fetched by any means.” He went on to add that there are some problems with his contract as far as the “DSE side of things” and that “technically he’s still under contract to PRIDE.” I think he might not have been aware at the time he made the comments that the sale to the Fertittas has been finalized.
Barnett was asked about Bodog and if there was anything “going on from a fighting standpoint” and Barnett responded “Not from a fighting standpoint…” He was complementary about the promotion though, saying doing some commentary work was a possibility and that he thinks they are doing business the right way.
The fact that Barnett is opening to doing business with Zuffa is a good thing considering all the bad blood between both sides in the past. However, it still appears that Barnett’s MMA future is up in the air. EliteXC had made an attempt to have him fight one the June 2 K-1 card in LA against Sergei Kharinotonov but couldn’t make the match due to Barnett’s contract with PRIDE. Barnett will also be doing some pro wrestling in Japan this summer, which is something he’s done in the past.
From a fan’s perspective, I’d love to see him back in the UFC. He’s a talented, tough fighter, who would be an instant contender for the UFC heavyweight title. He’s extremely intelligent and charismatic and as such, would be extremely marketable here in the U.S. from a mainstream perspective. You can listen to the interview at:
The interview starts around the 27:00 mark.