by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
Ever since the UFC publicly announced that it has a working agreement with Pride, which is tentatively scheduled to result in a UFC Light Heavyweight Title match between the UFC’s Chuck Liddell and Pride’s Wanderlei Silva in November, speculation has been rampant about other fighters who might step into the Octagon as part of the Pride-UFC relationship.

Among those names is Phil Baroni, who made a post on the Underground Forum a few weeks ago in which he stated that he would be fighting “a top UFC middleweight” in the UFC in November.

Although things could certainly change again, it now appears that Baroni will not be part of the UFC’s November card, based on what Baroni stated in an interview with MMAWeekly. On the subject of fighting in the UFC, Baroni said, “I don’t think it’s going to happen, but I started my career in the UFC, and I think I’ll fight in the UFC again.”

Many fans will be disappointed to hear that Baroni doesn’t believe that he’ll be fighting in the UFC this fall, as the enigmatic star always made quite the impression and is almost perfectly built for the newfound popularity of MMA in America.

Even if Baroni isn’t likely to return to the UFC in the immediate future, he was not hesitant to talk about who he’d like to face if given the chance to fight in the UFC.

“Of course I’d like to fight [Rich] Franklin,” said Baroni. “He is the champ. To be the best, you have to beat the best. I know I match up real good with him, and I know if we fought, I would knock him out. The division is still real tough. They have a good group of middleweights right now over there.”

Another potential showdown that is looming for Baroni is a battle with former UFC Champion Frank Shamrock, who defeated Cesar Gracie in the Strikeforce promotion this past March, but broke his hand during the fight.

“The guys at Strikeforce are hard at work trying to make it happen,” said Baroni about his proposed fight with Shamrock.

Never one to wait around for a fight, Baroni continues to train and prepare for his next bout, wherever that might be. He currently has just one fight remaining on his Pride contract, but his next fight could very well be in Strikeforce or England’s Cage Rage promotion instead of Pride.

As long as he’s under Pride contract, Baroni can fight for other MMA organizations, but only with Pride’s permission.

“Pride is good at letting their fighters fight in other organizations,” said Baroni. “Cage Rage is a great promotion, the biggest in England. I was supposed to fight there two times now, and it didn’t work out. I’m sure I’ll fight in Cage Rage in the near future.”

For now, the game for Phil Baroni is wait and see. With no current bout on his agenda, it’s not clear what is next for the New York Bad Ass. One thing is certain, though: Baroni never backs down from a challenge.

“I’ll fight anyone. It doesn’t matter to me.”