Former UFC champ Josh Barnett inks deal with Bellator

Former UFC champion and King of Pancrase Josh Barnett has inked a deal to fight for Bellator MMA.

Bellator president Scott Coker announced the news on Twitter on Monday with Barnett replying his affirmation of the news with Bellator officials further confirming the news to’s Damon Martin.

“Welcome to Bellator MMA, Josh Barnett,” wrote Coker, who added “(Not an April Fools joke)” due to the announcement coinciding with the day littered with practical jokes.

At 41 years of age, Barnett has been fighting professionally his entire adult life. He’s fought for nearly every major organization on the planet. 

He won three fights in one night to win an old-school SuperBrawl tournament, became a UFC heavyweight champion, was an openweight King of Pancrase, fought the best heavyweights that Pride FC had to offer, lost to current UFC champion Daniel Cormier in a Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix, and made another run in the Octagon.

There is hardly a soul on Earth that could bolster a similar resume.

But “The Warmaster” isn’t done yet. He now re-emerges with Bellator MMA.

It’s unclear how soon or whom he will fight in his Bellator debut, but the promotion could be angling for a fight that for years has eluded Barnett. While they never fought under the Pride banner, Barnett was supposed to have fought Fedor Emelianenko under the Affliction moniker in 2009, but the bout was cancelled after Barnett tested positive to an anabolic steroid.

TRENDING > UFC heavyweight Ruslan Magomedov receives lifetime ban from USADA

Barnett currently holds a record of 35-8. He last fought in the Octagon, defeating fellow former UFC champion Andrei Arlovski in a headlining bout at a UFC Fight Night in Hamburg, Germany, on Sept. 3, 2016. He sat out for more than a year following that bout while adjudicating a UFC Anti-Doping Policy violation which was later found to have been caused by a contaminated supplement.