September 20, 2010

by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com Josh Barnett’s addition to the Strikeforce heavyweight division gives the promotion yet another top caliber fighter to their already impressive roster. With former heavyweight king Fedor Emelianenko; the man who defeated him, Fabricio Werdum; Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva; Sergei Kharitonov; and heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem all under their banner now; Strikeforce has built a formidable heavyweight division.

It was just a few years ago when the heavyweights in the United States were decimated. The top big men in the sport were mostly competing in Japan for Pride, and the UFC was shuffling its roster to find top quality opponents for its champion at the time, Andrei Arlovski.

The heavyweight division in 2010 is littered with top-notch fighters. The UFC has no shortage of great talent with No. 1 ranked Brock Lesnar leading the way. Now that Strikeforce has Barnett, does it start pushing its heavyweight division ahead of the UFC’s?

“The Strikeforce heavyweight division is really phenomenal right now,” Barnett told MMAWeekly Radio recently. “I guess one way to look at it would be look at me, Fedor, Alistair, Bigfoot, Arlovski, and Werdum, and look at our records and stack them up. If you count all the wins that we have under our belts that far surpasses the top five guys in the UFC’s amount of fights even.

“Granted, just because you don’t have a lot of fights that doesn’t mean you’re not a great fighter, but I definitely think we’ve got a big edge with that kind of veteran, international talent.”

The UFC has rebuilt its heavyweight division over the last few years, and besides Lesnar, young talented fighters like Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos have made waves of late. Tack on to that list fighters like Shane Carwin, Frank Mir, and Roy Nelson, and the world’s biggest MMA promotion has plenty heavyweight talent to go around.

Barnett believes his addition helps push Strikeforce ahead of the UFC, and that experience and time spent in the cage will play a large part in why people are going to pay attention to what they’re doing.

“With that kind of time spent in the ring and the cage, we’ve fought under all kinds of different rules, we’ve been in all kinds of different wars, and I think it’s going to pay off when the people tune in to go and watch us fight,” Barnett said.

As happy as he is to point out Strikeforce’s loaded heavyweight roster, Barnett is also cautious to deem anyone truly the top dogs when it comes to a single division. Much like what happened with the Pride heavyweights a few years ago, things happen and upheaval is a big part of MMA. He also knows that no matter how great someone has been, or looks to be right now, that can all change with one fight.

“At any moment things can swing around,” stated Barnett. “Guys you would expect to excel sometimes, sometimes don’t, and sometimes somebody steps into the limelight and really shines.”

One thing Barnett is quick to guarantee is his own performance.

“I’m going to bring the same kind of ferocity and relentless, merciless kind of fighting in the ring,” Barnett commented about his fights in Strikeforce. “No one’s going to be disappointed in my entry.”

There has been no timetable for Barnett’s entry into Strikeforce, but it’s likely to happen before the end of 2010.