UFC Heavyweight champion. King of Pancrase Openweight champion. Runner up in the 2006 PRIDE Openweight Grand Prix. Wins over Randy Couture, Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera, Dan Severn and Hidehiko Yoshida. For the past 14 years Josh Barnett has been considered a top heavyweight in the world of mixed martial arts. With the unique use of catch wrestling and a wacky charisma he has become a undeinable force in the heavyweight division. He even used his fame in Japan where he wrestled several times for NJPW, New Japan Pro Wrestling. Funny thing though, the majority of fight fans don’t even know his name.
Starting in January of 1997 he slowly came up through early independent promotions. “The Babyfaced Assasin” quickly dispatched his foes; usually through his expertise in submission wrestling. Even defeating UFC Hall of Famer Dan Severn in the Superbrawl promotion. In 3 short years he made it to the big time, winning his debut fight at UFC 28. After a KO loss to Pedro Rizzo he would beat the giant Semmy Schilt and Bobby Hoffman before getting a Heavyweight title shot against Randy “The Natural” Couture at UFC 36. Couture was easily able to dominate the bigger Barnett. His superior wrestling able to keep his opponent down. “The Natural” was able to neutralize all of Barnett’s submission attempts with ease. Barnett escaping the grasp of the Olympic hopeful just as the fight ended. Things looked to continue this way at the beginning of the second round as Couture took down the bigger man. In the closing minutes of the second round Barnett was able to escape. Getting the top position he reigned hell upon “The Natural” and won via TKO. At 25 years old “The Babyfaced Assassin” Josh Barnett become the youngest UFC Heavyweight Champion
Josh Barnett- Record Breaker
Shortly after the win Barnett was busted for steroid use by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Barnett didn’t help matters when he, alongside trainer Matt Hume, cried foul on UFC as well as the athletic commission. Even implying that there was some sort of conspiracy against him. Needless to say, this didn’t endear him to either association and he was essentially blackballed from fighting in the United States. After taking smaller fights in Pancrase and K-1 he made his debut in PRIDE Fighting Championships, the biggest promotion in Japan. Despite several losses to Mirko Cro Cop, Barnett slowly made his way through the ranks. He earned decisive wins over Kazuhiro Nakamura, Aleksander Emelianenko and Mark Hunt. With a win over top heavyweight Antonio Noguiera he looked to be next in line to face PRIDE Heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko when the UFC bought PRIDE. With PRIDE gone and bridges burned, Barnett had nowhere to go.
Josh Barnett- Man Without A Home.
Like the Shaolin masters of old kung fu movies he traveled the world. Doing everything having fights in Japans’ Sengoku promotion to doing professional wrestling for Antonio Inoki in IGF. Finally finding his way back to America in the Affliction promotion, hoping for the match with Fedor. He debuted for the new Affliction promotion where he avenged his first UFC loss when he knocked out Pedro Rizzo in the second. 6 months later he faced fellow PRIDE alumni Gilbert Yvel. With these two wins he was set to finally face Fedor Emelianenko. Alas, this was not meant to be. With only ten days before the show Barnett was pulled from the show. At a press conference on July 22nd 2009, the California State Athletic Commission revealed that Barnett was pulled when anabolic steroids were found in his drug test. Not only did this cancel the show but Affliction was shut down. Since then he has been lying low. Taken a couple of fights overseas but little of consequence.
Josh Barnett- Promotion Killer.
Through all of the victory and controversy things come to a head this Saturday night. In his return to the United States he will be facing heavyweight “The Grim” Brett Rogers. At the age of 33 this is seems to be Barnett’s final major run in mixed martial arts. His last chance to solidify a positive spot in MMA history. Whether he can or not, that choice is left to him.
Josh Barnett- Man of Many Names