FiveOuncesOfPain.com contacted former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett to get his reaction to comments that UFC president Dana White directed at him during a conference call this afternoon to promote UFC 75.
White was asked to respond to Barnett’s recent assertion that Randy Couture was a “paper champion” (that was the phrase the reporter used), to which White replied, “Nobody gives a shit about Josh Barnett, especially not me.”
“He cared,” Barnett responded after White’s quote was read. “He gives a shit because if he didn’t he wouldn’t say anything and he wouldn’t get so worked up about it. He only uses his coveted swear words at important moments like when he tries to get fighters pumped up or gives them pep talks.”
Five Ounces Of Pain then asked Barnett if he was still in negotiations at the time of his original comments.
“I was not negotiating with the UFC at the time of the comments but I can’t really talk about all the negotiations that I’ve been involved with and will be involved with at this point,” he answered.
When asked if he felt there was still a chance he could sign with the UFC, Barnett didn’t rule it out.
“I could always sign with the UFC,” responded Barnett. “It’s only a matter of making things work right for the both of us.”
Furthermore, Barnett doesn’t believe he burned a bridge with the UFC with the negative comments he made towards Couture.
“You don’t burn bridges with Dana,” the youngest heavyweight champion in UFC history stated. “If you can make him money, he puts you in there. If he thinks he’s going to get rich, he uses you or in some instances he has his guys that he calls his ‘boys,’ or whatever. He knows where his bread is buttered and if he sees green — it’s a go. Randy got an instant title shot coming out of retirement. You know why? Because he saw green.
“I’m not the only person to ever have issues with Dana and I’m sure — in fact I know for a fact — that there are fighters that are in the Ultimate Fighting Championship right now that have a problem with Dana White. But this is a completely different scenario. If he wants to have personal issues with fighters then there’s nothing I can do to help that guy.
“In terms of business, I make promoters money and promoters make me money and that’s what it comes down to and when it comes to calling somebody unbeatable you better make sure next time that the guy that beat him for the heavyweight title before isn’t in the same room.”
Five Ounces also took the opportunity to get Barnett’s comments about Renato Sobral’s contract not being renewed by the UFC. Barnett cornered Sobral for his fight against David Heath at UFC 74 this past Saturday. UFC president Dana White announced that Sobral’s contract has not been “renewed” and I asked Barnett that if the decision was indeed based on the extended choke applied to Heath if he felt the punishment was fair?
“I think it’s completely overblown and an overreaction. It takes two to tango. Why didn’t he release David Heath? Babalu said not a single unkind word about David Heath leading into that fight. Everything was just fine until he decided to get in Babalu’s face and call him an MF’er. He provoked the guy. This is someone that’s been fighting since the Vale Tudo days of Brazil. Maybe to sportswriters and fans it was a really ugly scenario — and you know what, if I had known he was going to do something like that I would have told him not to — but it’s not uncommon. It’s not something as a fighter — and I’ve been in this business 11 years — I have seen it more than I can count on both hands and both toes. That happens. Things happen.
“First off, if you’re going to provoke somebody then they now have a little extra incentive to come after you. That’s something you created and if the NSAC wants to fine or suspend, they’re going to make their decision. But I think it’s really ridiculous to put him to the floor and treat him like that when Dana, if he’s really hip to MMA and he’s used to follow it then he knows what’s going on, and he’s just trying to play a part in the media to make the CYA real happy at the expense of Babalu.
“Should he have done that? No, I don’t think he should have. Plus, with all the blood everywhere and the very dominating performance he put to David Heath, it made it look even worse. But it’s not just a simple matter of this guy was trying to hurt him. And you know what? People pass out all the time from refusing to tap and nobody faults them for that. It’s certainly within their own control.
“If I remember, B.J. Penn held a choke long on Jens Pulver and we don’t see him getting released from his contract?”