Josh Barnett: ‘The Winner of This Tournament is the No. 1 Heavyweight in the World’

June 14, 2011
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Former UFC champion Josh Barnett says there is no question that whoever comes out on top of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix is the top heavyweight in the sport.

The Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix has managed to amass one of the best collections of fighters in one tournament in the history of the sport.

From Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem to Fabricio Werdum to Antonio Silva to Sergei Kharitonov, the tournament has put together a list of top ten fighters that has rarely been seen in one place, at one time.

Former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett is one of those famous names making his Strikeforce debut this weekend when he faces Brett Rogers in an opening round match-up in the Heavyweight Grand Prix.

Barnett has been off for nearly a year while waiting for Strikeforce to get him a fight, and for his place in the tournament to come around, but now that it’s here he’s excited to get back in action. Looking over the names in the brackets, Barnett is sure that whoever wins this tournament has to be viewed as the top heavyweight in the sport when the dust settles.

“I absolutely believe that the winner of this tournament is the No. 1 heavyweight in the world,” Barnett told MMAWeekly Radio. “Anybody that comes out on the top of this has the experience, or got the track record, and it will be proven without a doubt. I think I’m fighting in the toughest collection of heavyweights just about ever assembled. To say otherwise would be a real travesty, and would definitely show bias.”

To kick off the opening round of the tournament, Barnett will face heavy handed striker Brett Rogers who returns to action after going 1-2 in his last three fights.

Rogers fell to former Pride legend Fedor Emelianenko, but not without putting up a fight, and punished the Russian before succumbing to strikes in the 2nd round of their bout in 2009. The Chicago native didn’t fair so well however when he faced Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem, where he was finished inside the first round of their fight last year.

On paper, Barnett is a heavy favorite in the bout with Rogers.

With nearly three times the experience not to mention the who’s who list of fighters Barnett has faced over the years, he is the overwhelming choice by most to win this fight. Just because he’s supposed to win doesn’t mean he will, and that’s the thought that Barnett keeps tucked away as he trains and prepares to meet Rogers this weekend in Dallas.

“He’s still fairly young, not real young to this sport, but he doesn’t come there with the pedigree that I do. So, by all means I should take him out, but nothing’s to be said until the fight actually goes down, and anything can happen out there in the ring,” said Barnett.

Throughout his 30+ fight career, Barnett has faced every type of fighter from striker to wrestler to jiu-jitsu practitioner. The crafty veteran faced a somewhat similar fighter in his second to last fight when he fought Mighty Mo in Dream last March.

While Rogers definitely has some height and reach on Mighty Mo, the punching power is eerily similar, but Barnett got through him in less than a round, and based on skillsets he believes Mighty Mo was the tougher opponent.

“I think Mighty Mo is a tougher opponent than Brett, as Mighty Mo actually has a pretty decent wrestling background from high school and he’s a K-1 level kickboxer,” Barnett explained.

Barnett understands that Rogers is still an unfinished project, trying to learn the sport and progress as a fighter.

“He’s far from being one of the best guys out there in its entirety. What I mean by this is to be consistently one of the best guys. I think if he touches you he can knock anybody out, but I don’t think even he would be willing to say that he’s acquired all the skills that are necessary to be the best fighter in the world at this point,” Barnett stated.

What Barnett knows for sure about Rogers for their fight this Saturday night is that he is dangerous, and he has been preparing for this bout for months.

“I think the best Brett Rogers is going to show up come June 18, so when I go out there and I beat him, I’m going to beat the best Brett that there’s ever been,” said Barnett.

Josh Barnett meets Brett Rogers this Saturday night in Dallas during the next round of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix.

Damon Martin is the lead staff writer and radio host for
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  • iowafightfan

    I have a couple of problems here…

    First of all, let’s stop calling Barnett “Former UFC Champion”. If you recall, he earned the title by beating Randy Couture and immediately afterwards tested positive for PEDs, and was stripped of the title. Since then, he has not stepped foot in the Octagon, and has since tested positive for PED’s twice.

    Also, I think it’s hard to say the winner of this tournament is # 1. I will give him a top 5, maybe even top 3 spot, but without having Junior Dos Santos and Cain Valesquez in this tournamanet, how can you honestly think the winner is the # 1??

  • wonggfan

    Former UFC champion doesn’t mean shit, especially if you couldn’t defend it twice. And given the high turnover rate, almost everyone is a former UFC champion.

    I cannot agree that the winner of SF tourney is #1, unless Overeem wins the whole thing via KO. Even then, Overeem has to face the winner of JDS/Cain to determine who is truly #1.

    Werdum, Sergei, and Barnett cannot be called #1, even if they win the whole thing via KO. If one of them wins the whole thing, I would have to say that Overeem was overrated.

    Reem is still a question mark. Barnett has lost to Cro Cop and I am sure will get KOed by JDS. Werdum has already been KOed by JDs. Sergei lost to Monson and his wrestling is way too weak…he will have problems with strong wrestlers in the UFC.

    • villain818

      Your telling me that if Overeem wins this touney he still wont be ranked num 1? Ha, Let’s talk about Overeem. The Reem holds 3 belts and ever since he’s turned to a HW he’s been undeafeated fighting guys left and right. He hasn’t taken a rest like most UFC fighters that win a title then claim too have an injury. Usually dont defend their title a year later.

      Cain…. Great talent and a dangerous HW. Who did he beat to earn the belt? Lesnar? with a pathetic record…. JDS does great against Carwin but Carwin has been out of the Octagon since last July.

      Besides the HW’s in the SF touney are the top but you still have all the other HW’s in SF that are dangerous and most of them have been more active plus records are impessive.
      Please show the SF HW’s some more respect.

  • wonggfan

    Barnett talks a lot of shit for someone who hasn’t faced top competition since he lost to Nog.

    Barnett is at best on Mir’s level, a step below Carwin/Brock and two steps below Cain/JDS.

    The new heavyweights in the UFC, Cain and JDS, are likely better than prime Fedor. They are beasts.

    • Cptmats

      Sry a Prime Fedor is still by far the best HW on the Planet !

  • clizzark

    Werdum already has a case for being the #1 HW. If he were to win it all, then he should certainly be #1 without much question.

    • wonggfan

      He has “a” case. But so does Cain and JDS. And JDS and Cain has stronger cases than Werdum for the following reasons:

      First, let’s look at Werdum’s record. He lost to Nog and Sergei via decision in Pride. And then beat Overeem, Aleks, and Gonzaga (none of them were in the top 5 when Werdum faced them). Then lost to AA (a top 5 fighter). Then got KTFO by JDS (unranked fighter). Since then he beat two non-top 10 fighters (at the time of the fight) and Fedor (the #1 HW by default and not by positive proof) via 1st round submission that is too quick for anyone to give any meaning. Werdum never looked impressive throughout his career.

      Cain is currently undefeated and has beaten Brock and Nog. Nog was ranked in the top 5 and Brock was ranked number 1. His performance has been very impressive.

      JDS has only one loss. Has beaten Werdum, CC, Gonzaga, and Carwin (all top 10 at the time JDS KOed or beat them). He has looked untouchable.

      So…everyone has “a” case. Fedor has “a” case too, although a very weak one. Barnett has “a” case. Brock has “a” case. Sergei has “a” case. Overeem has “a” case.

      But at this time, we can only pick #1 fighter by default. So who do you think has the strongest case?

  • We will only know the #1 HW when the division is unified. Didn’t Dos Santos KO Werdum in 1st rd? Just sayin. The winner of the tournament should face the UFC champion.

    • wonggfan

      All of them, except for Reem, have not been impressive enough to challenge the UFC champ even after winning the SF tourney.

      I’ve seen Barnett. I’ve seen Werdum. I’ve seen Sergei. They are not that impressive, although perennial top 10 fighters.

      If Reem wins the whole thing, I would rank him top 3.

      If Reem wins the whole thing impressively, I would rank him top 2 or 1 depending on the impressiveness.

      If Reem loses, the winner should fight Shane Carwin before even thinking about the UFC belt.

    • Vitor Belfort defeated Randy in their first outing. Did that make him better? Apparently not as Randy TKO’d him in their next fight. Same goes with Sonnen and Filho. The guy who beats Fedor first is arguably the best in the world and deservingly should ranked ahead of anyone they may have lost to.

      • iowafightfan

        To be fair, Vitor beat Randy because of a cut to Randy’s eye caused by a faulty glove worn by Vitor.

        Sonnen/Filho is also a bad example, because Filho handed Sonnen that second fight, and Sonnen still couldn’t do anything effective. Filho literally laid down and let Sonnen win……we all know Filho’e pretty much lost his mind in the last few years, which is sad because he had the potential to be a great fighter.

  • Josh who?

  • Cptmats

    Werdume will win this tourny !

  • bdono554

    Nope… not to you Cptmats just barnett

  • MrAdidas

    Of course these morons in the Strikeforce HW tournament will say the winner of this slow process/dragged out publicity stunt, I mean… tournament is the #1 HW in the world, b/c ONE: they are figthing in it. TWO: it makes them think that if they keep telling themselves that the winner of this tournament is the #1 HW, that it’ll be true. Whatever makes you feel better/sleep better at night you Strikeforce losers.

    What other sports, where the atheletes who werent in the top league in their repective sport would actually claim to be the best in the world?!? Imagine people playing in the AHL saying they were the best Hockey team or player in the world, when the top league is the NHL. Same goes for the NBA, imagine someone from Europe claimed to be the #1 Basketball player in the world, yet hes not playing in the NBA. So why are these fucking idiots from Strikeforce trying to make them-selves feel better by convincing themselves that whomever wins the Strikeforce HW tournament is the #1 HW in the world?!?

    Sorry douche sacs, but if you dont fight in the UFC, you are DEFINATELY not the #! fighter in the world, even if your name is Fedor. Look what happened to Fedor when he fought “decent” top 15 to top 20 fighters… he got embaressed!!! I bet Fedor wishes he would have lost in the UFC Vs. the REAL/ACTUAL best in the world, while making $5 million a fight. I wouldnt think anything less of Fedor had he lost 2 fights in the UFC Vs. any of the the top 5 fighters @ HW, but losing 2 fights in a row outside the UFC… ONLY proves one thing & one thing ONLY…… Fedor is NOT the best HW in the world. If thats not proof enough, then Fedor figthing Hendo @ LHW or catch weight proves Fedor isnt the best HW, if he was – why would he move down in weight?!?

    ChEcK mAtE