Although an offer remains on the table, it looks now like Josh Barnett, who is 9-1 in the last half decade, will not be fighting in the UFC.
UFC president Dana White, who is characteristically unkind to figures he cannot sign, offered instead high praise for the "The Warmaster."
"I'm sure Josh Barnett doesn't care," said White of the failure to come to terms that would bring the heavyweight into the UFC. "Josh Barnett's a fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants type guy, beats to his own drum. He said if he stayed in the UFC all this time, what could he have accomplished or whatever.
"But Josh Barnett's never been a guy to say 'I don't want to fight this guy' or 'I don't want to fight that guy.' He's not that type of person. He likes to fight."
For his part, Barnett has in the recent past offered White his highest praise.
“Dana likes to go out there and crush, kill, pillage, whatever; and let’s face it, that’s kind of my M.O.,” said Barnett admiringly in 2011. “As much as I may have ever had difficulty with Dana at the end of the day there is a part of me that absolutely vibes with what he is does.
“Whether he wants to think about it or not, here and now, no bull$#!^, Dana White is pretty f@$%ing metal and I am a metal dude."
So what went wrong?
Barnett's manager Leland LaBarre recently appeared on The MMA Hour, and offered a statement on Barnett's behalf.
"I was excited to fight Junior. I thought he was a favorable match up for me, but Zuffa was unwilling to give me something that they gave Eddie Alvarez. No disrespect to Eddie, but I felt it was fair to give it to me as well. Although things seem to be working out well for me, I feel bad for the fans. They wanted me to fight certain guys in the UFC and I really wanted to give them those fights. Once we get the deal we are working on done, the fight the fans scream for will be lost forever."
The two key aspects of the statement are the indication that Barnett is nearing completion of a deal, presumably with another promotion, and the word "something."
What is the "something" that Eddie Alvarez was offered that Barnett was not.
The deal with Eddie Alvarez, so enticing that it has led to a court case with Bellator that appears to be in settlement negotiation, had several key points:
•Eight fight deal;
•Immediate title shot;
•$250,000 signing bonus;
•$75,000 to show and another $75, 000 to win, escalating $5,000 with each win, to a maximum of $210,000;
•A cut of the PPV buys ($1 for the first 200,000 to 400,000 buys, $2 for the next 400,000 to 600,000 buys, and $2.50 for each buy over 600,000).
• A fight on a FOX card, with the attendant exposure to millions of fans;
•Three commentary opportunities.
The area of disagreement is in all likelihood not the monetary terms, as that is not what drives Josh Barnett. Barnett is an avid professional wrestler, and the UFC takes a dim view of fighters participating in what could be a rival for the fans eyeballs, but Alvarez was not offered a deal that allows him to do pro wrestling.
So what was the "something" Zuffa is unwilling to give Barnett that they offered Eddie Alvarez?
And was it fair for Josh Barnett to expect an offer similar to that offered Alvarez?
And who is the deal with that is nearing completion?
And lastly, what ever promotion he signs with, who is Josh Barnett going to fight?
With the exception of Daniel Cormier who is now signed with the UFC, Strikeforce, which had a ferocious roster of heavyweights, managed to get the following opponents for The Warmaster - Nandor Guelmino, Sergei Kharitonov, Brett Rogers, Geronimo dos Santos, Siala Siliga, Gilbert Yvel, and Pedro Rizzo. Is any promotion on Earth going to be able to find stiffer competition? Or is the 35 year old going to close his career fighting the Siala Siligas and Nandor Guelminos of mixed martial arts?
As a huge Josh Barnett fan, I do well and truly hope not. As fan, losing the matchups Barnett would have in the UFC feels like a crime.
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