Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Heavyweight Josh Barnett has been released by the UFC, according to Steven Marrocco for MMAjunkie. The reason for the release is not known, but it is believed to a full separation, leaving Barnett free to sign with Bellator, RIZIN, ONE, or anywhere he pleases.

‘The Warmaster’ is coming off a win over Andrei Arlovski at UFC Fight Night: Arlovski vs. Barnett on September 3, 2016. Barnett is 3-2 in the UFC since the league acquired Strikeforce. He won three performance bonuses in his last three fights. The last time Barnett was ranked he was #6 iin the world. And he is a monster talent, in the division that is not the deepest.

There is no rational reason the UFC would release Josh Barnett.

One plausible explanation is disagreement over USADA’s test failure. And to be clear, Josh Barnett didn’t fail, USADA did.

In December of 2016, Barnett had a test flagged for Ostarine. He was offered an 18-month suspension by USADA, but Barnett fought back. He paid for his supplements to be tested; those results came back last spring and, along with his meticulous records keeping, unequivocally showed contamination.

USADA still demanded a suspension. Worse, they categorized Barnett as a second-time offender, due to a failed PED test in 2009, years before the UFC contracted with USADA for its anti-doping services. That would mean a suspension of up to four years for a 40-year-old. But again Barnett fought back, and demanded an independent arbitrator, at his expense.

Barnett received no suspension and instead got a public reprimand. However, in the closing years of his career, for all of 2017, and the first several months of 2018, Barnett was prohibited from fighting. So he nearly served an 18-month suspension anyway.

Barnett was not impressed with USADA, nor was anyone who investigated the injustice.

“But the fact is we worked with them from the beginning and they had knowledge this supplement was tainted” said Barnett to Brett Okamoto for ESPN in March. “We could have been done with this a long time ago. The fact is, they seemed far more insistent on trying to be punitive than to recognize the facts and move on.”

Barnett was asked if he would subject himself to USADA again?

“I’m not anywhere near a training camp, so I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get there,” he replied. “There is a concern that maybe someone will take this personal. Am I under someone’s crosshairs now? I don’t know.”

It appears that Barnett may have decided he didn’t want to subject himself to another USADA failure. Who could blame him?