He's one of the more unique characters in all of mixed martial arts. It's too bad for Josh Barnett that the flap about the way he handled a 2002 steroid suspension will probably keep him from fighting in front a huge audience for the UFC ever again. Barnett stuck to his guns saying that the positive test was phony and many with the UFC felt like he embarrassed the organization when it was still trying to clean up its reputation. Now there is a way to possibly force the UFC's hand and that's a win or two over pound-for-pound best Fedor Emelianenko. But Barnett isn't exactly screaming from the hills for that fight. He was asked during the recent Affliction 2 teleconference if he had turned down a Fedor fight. His answer was typical Barnett, laced with ambiguity:
"It was more like Fedor and I were both not into the fight at the time. There's a lot to go behind that. There was some joseling in the back to begin with, bit of it was fairly premature. And in the end, it just ended up laying out the way it did, as it is."
Click below to listen to Barnett's comments:
Affliction's Tom Atencio chimed in and said the rumors of Barnett turning down the fight were untrue and that the internet has ushered in an atmosphere where people say anything they want. Atencio said he's always told people to come to him for the truth. So the answer to the question from MMAJunkie's John Morgan was Barnett did turn down the fight but we won't tell you why.
Barnett did go on to say that he's not motivated by titles or fame and that he's just into the competition. He also dropped a great line about his opponent's shoddy tattoos possibly being a distraction during the fight.
The attention given to Barnett outside of MMA hardcores is sad. The guy is still only 31 years-old with a 23-5 record. Three of his losses came to Cro Cop and the only other guy to beat him in the last seven years is Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. The guy is legitimately a top-five heavyweight and throw in his personality, he should be a slam dunk to be a big star in the U.S. in and out of the ring. Will that ever happen? Probably not.