Former heavyweight champs Barnett and Rodriguez employed again

Maggie Hendricks

Someone call the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Josh Barnett and Ricco Rodriguez are both employed by MMA promotions again.

Strikeforce announced today that they have signed Josh Barnett to a multi-fight deal.

“Strikeforce is the home of the best heavyweight division in the world and I’m proud to be able to call it my home now,” said Barnett via a Strikeforce press release. “I’m looking forward to competing amongst the greatest fighters in the world and fighting my way to another world title.”

This is a shot at redemption for Barnett, a fighter with a checkered history. Despite being talented enough to win to UFC championship in 2002, Barnett was stripped of the belt immediately after because he tested positive for a banned substance.

He played a major role in the downfall of Affliction's fighting promotion by being denied a license for a bout with Fedor Emelianenko because he tested positive in a pre-fight drug test. Since then, he's failed to show up for hearings about getting his license back. As of April, the issue of his license in California is still unresolved.

Barnett has continued to fight in promotions overseas, and hasn't lost since a 2006 PRIDE bout with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. His last win was with Australia's Impact FC over Geronimo dos Santos, a first-round TKO.

No fights have been scheduled yet for Barnett, but maybe now fight fans will get to see the Barnett/Fedor Emelianenko bout that never happened because of Affliction's demise.

Rodriguez's second chance

During Thursday evening's broadcast, it was announced that Rodriguez signed with Bellator. He will face Dave Herman on Sept. 30 in Lake Charles, La.

Rodriguez beat Randy Couture in 2002 to win the UFC heavyweight belt, but lost it in the next fight to Tim Sylvia. After a stint on VH1's "Celebrity Rehab" and ballooning up to 330 lbs., he has become refocused on training. This year, he has fought six times, and won six times.

Herman will be a much tougher test for Rodriguez. He has 19 wins, and not a decision among them.