What Promotion Will Josh Barnett Fight For?

Josh Barnett had a rough 2009.  He was slated to fight in the biggest fight of his career.  In August it was scheduled for him to fight Fedor Emelianenko under the Affliction banner, however a failed drug test just a few weeks prior to the event caused the fight to be canceled, the event to be canceled and promotion t go under.  Barnett received an extended suspension for the failed steroids test.  Barnett claims innocence, but this is his second failed test in his career. In other words, he becomes a liability to a promotion.

John Barnett recently stated that he will fight again in 2010

Definitely something’s going to happen this year. As soon as any promotion out there stops bull—-ing and comes correct, that’s all. If they want me to fight, all they got to do is step up to the plate, throw me an opportunity and don’t put something in front of me that’s a slap in my face or ridiculous.

So…where will he fight.  If what I read a few weeks back is true then Barnett has been talking to Strikeforce, UFC and even DREAM about a potential return.  We can certainly assume that Barnett will not be offered the money he would have received prior to his latest failed drug test.

Talent-wise Barnett is a top-5 heavyweight in the world, which would make him a intriguing addition to any roster.  We could imagine several marketable match-ups under the UFC or Strikeforce banner.  Who wouldn’t like to see Barnett vs. Velasquez or Barnett vs. Lashley or even the Barnett vs. Fedor fight?

In my opinion, the UFC makes the most sense for Barnett.  However, if I was a betting man I doubt he will land there.  In the UFC there are more fights for him and more stability and more exposure.  It seems that he and UFC president Dana White have a rocky relationship.  The UFC did not want him after the fall of PRIDE, so I do not know if they would want him now.  His failed test really may handcuff the UFC and may make it more unlikely they offer Barnett a contract at all.  Quite honestly I am surprised there is even discussion about the UFC as a possibility.  In the long-term UFC would be a better option, but I doubt it would come to fruition.  Barnett is a former UFC heavyweight champion and does have a big win over Big Nog and Couture. The main reason the UFC would sign him would be to keep him away from Strikeforce.

Strikeforce seems more likely.  In the short term there are a few bouts for Barnett.  He could fight Lashley, Rogers, Overeem, or Antonio Silva.  He could even fight someone like Andrei Arlovski under the Strikeforce banner.  Also, it seems that Strikeforce is not quite as concerned about Barnett’s past as the UFC may be.  If you add to that the fact that Coker does not have the “baggage” when dealing with Barnett it seems more likely.  Strikeforce is a real option and maybe most likely.

The other option is DREAM or Sengoku.  Barnett has a large fan base there with his past PRIDE experience and his Japanese pro wrestling experience. Oh yeah…one more positive to going to Japan…no drug testing.  The downside is that there is ZERO competition for an elite heavyweight.

So…where does Barnett end up?  My guess…Strikeforce.  Yes, Barnett may constantly be on roids, but he is still a very talented fighter who has the skills et to hang with the best in the world.  He will get a shot somewhere.

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