Josh Barnett Ready to Make the First Defense of the UFC Title He Won a Decade Ago

August 29, 2013
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Josh BarnettJosh Barnett will be returning to the UFC after an 11-year absence to take on fellow former heavyweight champion Frank Mir in Milwaukee on Saturday night.

With nine wins in his last ten fights, Barnett is clearly still a force to be reckoned with in the heavyweight division. More than that, he believes he is still the champion because he hasn’t lost a fight in the Octagon since winning the title at UFC 36.

“When I walk in the ring, in my mind, I’m making my first title defense. That’s the way I see it,” he said on a recent episode of MMA’s Great Debate.

Barnett’s last UFC outing was in March 2002 when he stopped Randy Couture in the second round to win a belt that he would subsequently be stripped of after testing positive for a banned substance.

Barnett went on to fight for Pride, where he faced the likes of Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, Mark Hunt and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. The 35-year-old compared Mir’s career fighting in the UFC unfavorably with his own, while he competed in Japan.

“We’ve always been in different places, even when he was fighting for titles. No one ever took my belt from me, so I don’t know what belt they were swinging around, but that wasn’t the UFC heavyweight title as far as I was concerned and I was off at Pride fighting the top dudes in the world at the time.”

There is no doubt that when Mir first won the belt by submitting Tim Sylvia at UFC 48, most of the top heavyweights in the world were competing elsewhere. Zuffa’s buyout of Pride changed all that and Barnett is looking forward to testing himself against the division’s elite.

“I’ve come back to the UFC and the UFC is now the premier place to be for MMA,” Barnett said.

He feels that Mir is past his prime, but says he will not be taking this fight lightly.

“At this point Frank’s best days have already occurred, but you can’t underestimate people because you set yourself up for a downfall and I don’t think of Frank as being a bad fighter. A fighter might lose ten in a row, but they got a history of winning 30 before it and any moment there could be the one fight where they manage to pull it together and come back to their championship best and it only takes one fight.”

At this stage, Mir would be entitled to point out that he is almost two years younger than Barnett, but the “War Master” feels that, stylistically, this is a very good match-up for him.

“I think he’s very good (on the ground). He doesn’t have a very ‘jiu-jitsuesque’ style of grappling, but he’s a big dude, explosive and I believe he wrestled high school. So when it comes to grappling, there’s not a whole lot that he hasn’t seen before, but when it comes to application and putting things together, I don’t think he’s going to be able to find training partners that grapple the way I do. If it does go to the ground, I can shut down his offense and make him pay for being underneath.”

The official UFC rankings have Frank Mir at No. 6, while Barnett sits at No. 10. After fighting for Sengoku, Dream, Affliction and Strikeforce in recent years, Barnett is happy to finally be getting the recognition that comes from competing for the leading MMA promotion on the planet.

“For quite some time after Pride folded, anyone who was in the UFC got ranked higher than me and a lot of Frank’s relevancy was based on being in the UFC. I want to see how much potential there really is there by fighting him and, honestly, I don’t really care too much about rankings, but you see it and you think ‘this idiot thinks that?’ It gives you that much more motivation when you are getting your workout done.”

Like many fighters, Barnett has done double-duty in Hollywood. He was recently enlisted as a fight coordinator on the soon to be released Keanu Reeves movie “Man of Tai Chi.”

For the time being, however, he is fully focused on UFC 164 and while Barnett did make some disparaging remarks about Mir’s cardio, he added that he has no intention of trying to grind out a decision victory.

“I’m a finisher and I don’t want to be in there 15 minutes; I’d rather be in there five or less.”

(Photo courtesy of / Follow @JamesGoyder on Twitter)

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  • iuhh

    War Barnett!


    TITLE DEFENSE ??? He was STRIPPED from his title,,, someone tell him what “being Stipped from a title” means

    • Dragon Kid

      In his mind, he never lost the belt as nobody defeated him for it even if he got stripped of it.

      I don’t like Mir’s big mouth but I hope this fight won’t be a clinch hold or hump fest for 3 rounds

      • Werdoomb

        He lost to Cro Cop x 3 and then lost to DC at SF…those were real losses.

        Of course, since those fights did not take place “in” the UFC but “outside” the UFC, they don’t count.

        Fair enough. So, this must mean that the UFC HW belt doesn’t mean much, in which case he is holding a paper belt.

        Now had he beaten DC in SF, I could see some (minute) merit to this argument. But if he can’t beat DC, I don’t see how he can beat JDS and Cain who are on the same or higher level than DC.

        But in any case, I think Barnett is just trying to be entertaining.

        • jeremy

          he has no argument because he got STRIPPED of his title for being on roids.hence the fight dident count. this guy is delusional

        • Kristen

          ^^^ Likes his own comment ^^^ lol

          • TheCerealKiller

            If he didn’t, nobody would.

    • John Bunch

      He’s just screwing around, being Josh. I wouldn’t take him seriously, because he would laugh his ass off at these reactions.

    • DamianCross

      Remember back when Shawn Michaels got stripped of his pro wrestling belt, but came back with a fake belt and claimed he never lost it?

      You know how Barnett is a pro wrestler?


  • Pat Garret

    Talk ,about living in the past! Didn’t Barnett win his title during the Kennedy administration? Also the fans will never forget that during his time with the UFC. He cheated with PEDS, hence belt was stripped. He cheated the fans! And most of all, he cheated himself of being the best HW he could be..

    • fsunoles10

      he also tested positive when he was suppose to fight fedor right? screwed the fans out of another great fight.

      • John Bunch

        I like Barnett…but I’d blocked that out for some reason. Ruined Affliction 3 and a fight a lot of us had been waiting years to see. Remembering the anger now…

  • KingLettuce

    Mir is only collecting checks now. Barnett is going to kill him.

    • fsunoles10

      he lost to dc and jds so i think thats fairly forgivable but you’re acting like he fell off completely. his chin isnt what it used to be but skill wise he is still good enough to beat barnett.

      • Dragon Kid

        Mir never had a good chin.

        • Werdoomb

          A TUF Noob (aka someone who watched UFC after the fall of PRIDE) would say Mir has a great chin because he only got KOed by monsters.

          A real MMA fan (aka those that watched UFC from the inception) saw Cruz, Freeman, and Vera fights.

          • TheCerealKiller

            So by your standards, nobody can become a “real MMA fan” ever again? You’re an idiot.

          • Werdoomb

            not really you doomb doomb. The limits of your intelligence is no surprise.

            Currently, that is the rule.

            As time goes by, the rule will change.

            But it is very difficult to accept someone as an MMA fan unless they’ve followed the sport for at least ten years.

          • fsunoles10

            he was never the same after his wreck, he’s still like i said good enough to beat barnett.

      • KingLettuce

        I like Mir. But his last few fights it seems like he’s trying to avoid getting hurt rather than doing anything to win. He did nothing against DC (not to take credit from DC) when I think he could have won that fight, but he was instead contented to be mashed against the cage. I dunno…

        • Werdoomb

          he could NOT have won that fight buddy. DC beat Silva and Barnett. I doubt Mir can beat those guys.

          • TheCerealKiller

            I have way too big of a PRIDE boner still. Bigfoot and Josh “the roid” Barnett are not as good as you think. Bigfoot only beat Browne because he popped his hammy in the first few minutes.

          • Werdoomb

            U dooomb arse. Browne is the dark horse of the HW division. So the sheer fact that Bigfoot as a W against Browne, and not a L, means something, although probably not enough to justifiy ranking him in the top 5.

            I doubt people are overrating bigfoot the way you accuse them of doing. Bigfoot is a top 10 fighter but will never be a title contender again.

            P.S. I know you have a boner for PRIDE.

          • KingLettuce

            Let me rephrase. Mir really didn’t even try to win that fight. He knew he was clocking 250k regardless of the outcome…

  • TheCerealKiller

    Will he be able to get thru his full camp without roids?? His wins are mostly meaningless since he was roided up the whole time. That’s why he left and went to Janan in the first place.

  • #1mmafan.

    No stories about either Fightmaster last thursday or Legacy last friday. Nice going weekly. I mean weakly.

    • Amanda

      Fightmaster sucks.

  • Mark McDowall

    You mean the title that he won while on who knows how many different types of roids…then was stripped and immediately cut from the UFC?? Barnett needs to realize that he has a promising career in the WWE and thats about it…the man can cut a promo and hypes himself up to the moon.

    Although I believe he can claim himself to be the only man to single handedly close down an entire promotion due to ANOTHER failed drug test…thats definitely something to highlight on the ol’ resume Mr Barnett.

    Pointless fight…who cares…they are lucky its on the main card let alone the co main!

    • bajafox

      This guy is delusional. Must be nice to live in his own little world

    • Mike mckinney

      He cuts promos like he’s in the 80’s wwf. He’s not even remotely close to doing a good promo by today’s standards.

      • Werdoomb

        that’s right. these days you gotta either do Nick Diaz (I am an ignorant cholo) or Chael Sonnen (I am a thick skin, shameless clown).

        I would say Chael Sonnen is probably the best character we have on UFC. It is hard to beat him at this point. He has turned himself into a real heel.

      • Mark McDowall

        Yeah they are very 80’s WWE…but thats what makes them good. I think he could do well in WWE…

  • The Best Eva

    Don’t get cocky on the ground Josh, Mir has nasty power submissions that can get anyone if they fall into his few traps.

    Should be Barnett here though.

    • Tom Jolley

      i think Mir wins, he has consistently fought the tougher competition, and i think its gunna show

      • Werdoomb

        Yeah I agree.

        The home court advantage is definitely on Mir’s side, and you can’t ignore that.

        But come on. Fighting and losing brutally to tougher competition doesn’t necessarily make you a stronger fighter. Mir’s losses have been pretty brutal.

        Just look at the amount of beating Mir took. Hell, even Big Nog dropped him.

        • fsunoles10

          and still broke his arm, pretty impressive if you ask me.

          • Werdoomb

            Nog is not a good measuring stick for greatness.
            Beating Nog doesn’t mean anything.
            Losing to Nog means a lot.

        • The Best Eva

          It really depends how the fight goes, you can tell if Mir’s in it or not right when the fight starts.

      • The Best Eva

        Ya but he gets folded up like a lawn chair when he fights someone with talent.

  • Alex Anderson

    Hilarious :P. I agree with Mir about the matchup. Mir tends to be pretty candid (quite possibly too candid) about his assessment of fights, but in this case I think Barnett has a very tough challenge ahead of him. Mir is a total killer on the ground, I’m not good enough to even really see why it is that he is so good on the ground, but he has a lot of fast submissions, even when he’s been hurt, the experts say that you lose technique when you’re hurt, but more thorough training can enable you to have better technique even if you are hurt. It’s pretty terrifying that Mir still pulled off a submission against Big Nog when he was hurt. I think Barnett needs to try to use his (presumably) better foot speed as much as possible (Mir’s knees are clearly pretty f*****, it’s amazing he’s still fighting and ranked in the top 10 if you consider it). If Barnett thinks he has better cardio than Mir, then he might want to try to make the fight drag on as long as possible, and then try to overwhelm Mir with a flurry later on.


    The winner should fight Werdum the loser Overeem so we can weed some of these guys out of the top 10. If Werdum refuses to fight Josh or Francisco then maybe the winner fights Stipe?? Jus gotta come up with some contenders!

    • Werdoomb

      I would love to see Barnett vs Werdum and Mir vs Overeem.

      At this point, I would say Werdum beats Barnett and Mir beats Overeem.

      Why isn’t Reem going on TRT????? Juiced out Reem is unstoppable.

  • taylor2008

    Shouldnt there be an asterisk next to Barnetts win over Couture?

    • Werdoomb

      yeah. I am not saying Couture could have won had Barnett been clean (the size difference between the two is too big) but Josh cheated.

      • taylor2008

        Barnett is a big guy but Randy has handled big guys in the past. When Barnet was all over Randy like that I thought there was soemthing wrong. Nobody has ever manhandled randy with wrestling. Barnett was/is a great fighter though.

  • Joe

    This fight puts two of the best heavyweight submission artist of all times in the ring together. Both of these guys have been in the top ten consistently for over a decade(with the exceptions of drug related suspensions and accident recovery), but people on here act liked this fight is a joke. Make no mistake about it, the winner of this match is in the title picture.

    • Werdoomb

      title contention picture.

      The HW landscape has changed dramatically my friend. The UFC has all top 10 HWs.

  • james j

    Wonder if PEDS affected his ability to reason

  • solo

    As a fan of the sport, i dont like Barnett’s behaviour at all. He ‘s saying some stupid shit that doesnt make sense. I guess the roids f***** his brain a little bit.

    I hope Mir wins!

  • Flock of Burgers

    Josh was stripped of his title yet Tim Sylvia got to keep his when he tested positive. That’s some UFC math for ya.

    • Guest

      Sylvia was stripped of the title. The belt was vacant when he fought Mir at UFC 48. Had Barnett stayed in the UFC after UFC 36 vs. heading to Japan, he probably would’ve gotten the same opportunity Sylvia got in 2004.

      • Flock of Burgers

        I stand corrected! All this time I thought he received a suspension only.

  • Kenny powers

    After Barnett beats Mir, make #1 contender bout w/ Werdum/Barnett, winner gets JDS/Cain winner, then make Browne/Miocic for next shot.

  • Kenny powers

    Honestly, the door to a title shot is wide open for Barnett if he beats Mir. Think about it, you have JDS/Cain fighting, Werdum, Browne & Miocic. DC goin down to 205, then u have Overeem, Bigfoot, Nelson & Mir coming off losses. If he beats Mir & maybe Werdum/Browne, he’s right there

  • BobGyro

    None of you people know what the hell your talking about. Josh Barnett will destroy Cain along with JDS on the way to becoming the best heavyweight ever

  • onehitwonder

    i hardly call the win over Randy a victory, the ref. stopped it to early, Randy was taking him a round and a half, then the 30 sec. Josh finally starts to hit back they stopped the fight. bad call.