Former UFC Heavyweight Champion Josh Barnett Returns to the Octagon

May 22, 2013
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Josh BarnettFormer UFC heavyweight titleholder Josh Barnett has come to terms with the Ultimate Fighting Championship to return to the organization.

USA Today first reported the signing.

It’s been more than 11 years since Barnett last competed inside the UFC’s famed Octagon.  He fought five times in the promotion, amassing a 4-1 record, including capturing the heavyweight title at UFC 36 by defeating now UFC Hall of Famer Randy “The Natural” Couture.

The Seattle native was stripped of the title after failing a post-fight drug test for banned substances. He then embarked on an international career that included winning the Pancrase Openweight Championship. Barnett advanced to the finals of the 2006 Pride Openweight Tournament and the 2011 Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix.

The 35-year-old also competed in Dream and the now defunct Affliction organization.

Prior to a scheduled bout with heavyweight legend Fedor Emelianenko in August of 2009, Barnett tested positive for a banned substance a second time.  The fight was pulled and resulted in the cancellation of the fight card.  Affliction never hosted another event.

Barnett last fought on Jan. 12 in the final Strikeforce event, defeating Nandor Guelmino by submission in the first round.

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  • Mike mckinney

    I’m curious, any idea how USA Today got that story first? I wasn’t even aware USA today was covering mma. I guess the sport is growing.

    • Oswald Cobblepott

      They’ve been covering it for a while but usually in back pages of sports section.

    • KingLettuce

      Yeah it’s been in USAToday for a loooong time. Seems like they usually source other MMA sites/reporters though.

  • Timothy Malone

    Awesome news. The division needs new (or in this case old) talent and Barnett is one of the best at heavyweight.

    • Edpo21

      Are you kidding? Great news??? Expect nothing but boring fights from this bum…….that is if he can stay off the juice. He’s another lay and pray fighter I can’t stand especially b/c of all the failed drug tests. Bad move IMO.

      • Cereal Killer

        It’s good news for one reason, he can finally get whooped a few times in the UFC and all this Barnett talk can stop! Cormier smashed him just like all of the new talent will.

        • lfavelino

          smashed? when?

          the fight I saw had Cormier by decision.

          • Milosc

            … with a broken hand

            Barnett has been on the top of his division for a long, long time. This move is good for both parties’ credibility

          • barnettoo

            DC is ranked #3 right now. Don’t be ridiculous. Barnett did better than Mir.

            Barnett vs Mir would be AWESOME!!!

          • Cereal Killer

            Kinda like Cain smashed Junior, but I guess that was a decision too.

          • julian moran

            Comparing Cain vs JDS and Cormier vs Barnett is dumb.

        • julian moran

          Cormier is arguably the number 1 hw in the world, and he could not finish Barnett.

      • Anthony Lopez

        Lay and pray fighter? He has 4 decisions out of his 32 wins….. idiot

      • lfavelino

        Lay and pray? he’s ALWAYS going for the sub.

        Having a strong grappling game doesn’t make a fighter a lay and prayer (is it correct?).

        Well, I like the guy but I don’t think he’s in for the title anymore. Excited anyways.

      • barnettoo

        Edpo21 is a young kid who has never seen PRIDE fights, let alone old-school UFC fights.

  • solo


  • Dragon Kid

    Barnett vs. overeem – whoever gets tested for banned substances must retire from MMA.

    • JDMMA

      Lol… funny but true

      • Jay Nokay

        They’ll both be tested…

        And AO only got caught with high T:E levels, no illegal drugs in his system.

        • CS

          Getting caught with elevated testosterone levels implies the usage of steroids/TRT. Steroids are banned substances while TRT is illegal without a doctor’s permit.

          So basically, they were both using illegal substances. However, I love seeing both of them fight (in the UFC).

  • Joe

    I like that former champions are getting the chance to finish their out in the ufc. I would love to see Josh make another title run, but I believe he is a little too old for that now, but he will still make for a great gatekeeper

    • barnettoo

      wouldn’t call him a gatekeeper. More like a middle-of-the-pack dude.

      Yeah but for all purposes either you are the champion, the contender or the stepping stone.

      If viewed from this angle, except for top 3 or 5 guys in the HW division (Cain, JDS, DC, maybe Bigfoot, Reeem, and Werdum), everyone is a gatekeeper.

      So yeah…Frank Mir is a gatekeeper. Roy Nelson is a gatekeeper. Nog is a gatekeeper. Pat Barry and Kongo are not even gatekeepers.

  • bajafox

    Put him on a free card with Tim Sylva. Loser retires

    • barnettoo

      why do you always say stupid stuff like that?

      • MuayThaiFood

        Stupid is as stupid does.

  • tspoon88

    Barnett is a great fighter, very well rounded too. His striking might be his biggest weakness, but he can still keep up a fight with many of the guys at HW. I wouldn’t put my money on him ever getting the title again, but he can really help stack a card.

  • KingLettuce

    Baby Faced Assassin in the house. Start him off against an up and comer and then move him up the ranks. He’s totally capable of beating just about everyone in the top 10. I’d give even money that he beats Cormier in a rematch too.

  • julian moran

    Barnett vs Mir is the best match up I can think of. I see Barnett beating anyone in the division other then Velasquez, Cormier, JDS and Overeem.

    • barnettoo

      Damn the HW division is stacked. Only if Carwin hadn’t retired.

      But the UFC now has all of the top 10 HWs in the world.