by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
Waiting over a year for the right deal to come along after a contract debacle following the decline of Pride Fighting Championships, Josh Barnett is ready to return to action on March 5 for World Victory Road in Japan. He faces Hidehiko Yoshida in the main event of the debuting promotion’s Sengoku event.
During the frustrating time off, Barnett has managed to stay busy coaching a team of select fighters, but he is now ready to get back to business.
The match-up with Yoshida may seem on paper to be a bit of a mismatch that largely favors Barnett, but the former Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight titleholder says this will be a huge fight worthy of a main event.
“They said, ‘okay we want you to fight.’ So we talk over the details and ‘okay, we want you to fight (Hidehiko) Yoshida,'” said Barnett. “That’s a main event big fight, at least in Japan. You’d be pretty stupid to pass up on the opportunity to fight somebody like that.
“It makes for a good main event anyways.”
Barnett worked hard to get the right deal in place to secure his future and World Victory Road became the winner of the sweepstakes to land one of the top heavyweights in all of mixed martial arts.
“We talked to other people and things get put together. If it seems like it’s something that would work out, then you go forward,” he stated about his deal with World Victory Road.
Shortly after Barnett signed with World Victory Road, many of the former executives from Pride formed a new promotion along with the parent company of K-1, Fight Entertainment Group, in Japan and fans are clamoring to see if the “Baby Faced Assassin” could end up the new Dream organization.
“That really is up to Dream,” commented Barnett. “They know what the previous situation was with some of their ownership, at least what their ownership did with me. So they have all the power in the world to correct any problems that could possibly keep me from fighting for them.”
One fight that seems to still saturate the mind of many fans of the sport is Barnett matching up with Fedor Emelianenko, but he says he isn’t concerned about it.
“Honestly, I don’t think much about it at all. I’m not Randy (Couture),” he said about the Fedor fight. “I’m not going to chase after this fight. For me, I need to be out there fighting my fights, creating my own merit. Fedor is the No. 1 guy out there based on his past performances; he’s an incredible fighter and a cool guy. At this point people need to go their own ways.
“I’ve been waiting way too damn long to get a fight because of the turmoil that came of Pride folding, so at this point I’m not going to do anything that could possibly stall or hold up my career anymore in hopes in putting one specific (fight) together.”
Now his focus shifts solely to Yoshida, who Barnett has trained and worked with in the past while spending time in Japan.
“I think he comes with plenty of his own skill set,” he said of his opponent. “He’s an Olympic gold medalist. You don’t get to that sort of level without being a good athlete. We used to train together all the time. We’re friends, so we know each other pretty well. He’s really physically strong.”
Barnett also stated in the interview with MMAWeekly Radio that he doesn’t plan on fighting any more that eight times in 14 months, but he will take it on a “case-by-case” situation.
For now, Barnett is just happy to be fighting again.