Heavyweight Josh Barnett has been in the upper-echelon of the division for the past decade, plying his trade in a handful of promotions including the UFC, PRIDE, and Strikeforce. However, for a long time it looked like Barnett would never make his way back into the Octagon, burning a good portion of a bridge to the organization by testing positive for PEDs and leaving to compete where testing was more lax.
After cleaning up his act and serving as part of the Strikeforce roster, Barnett was brought on board again along with the bulk of the defunct promotion’s fighters and will make his first appearance in the infamous eight-sided cage since 2002 when he takes on Frank Mir this Saturday night at UFC 164. The 35-year old recently spoke to UFC.com about his long journey back, saying it was a relief of sorts as a competitor at the tail end of his career.
“If I’m not fighting in the UFC, I’m not cementing my legacy,” admitted Barnett. “I’m not going to the place where the battles are more constant and at a high level. I’m not giving the opportunity for the rest of the world to see what I’m doing, and I’m also doing myself a disservice because I’m not able to do what I want to do, and reap the benefits of the biggest promotion in the world, the best pay opportunities, the best recognition for all my other side projects that I’m involved with.
“There is really no better place to be. I started with the UFC, and I’d like to end with the UFC,” he concluded.
With the Mir match-up, Barnett is also in the midst of a situation many fans felt was a long time in the making after a regular stream of trash-talk between the two. Barnett is 32-6 with 27 stoppages, while fellow former champion Mir holds a 16-7 mark including finishes of Brock Lesnar, Check Kongo, and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Fans can catch their clash in the evening’s co-headlining slot.
Check out a one-on-one interview with Barnett below: