Not too long ago, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White relented on his firm Josh Barnett stance, revealing that if the pair "continued to play nice" and he was "able to deal with him" he could envision the "Baby-faced Assassin" returning to the Octagon in the near future.
Prior to his Strikeforce showdown with last night (Jan. 12, 2013) with Nandor Guelmino -- and after his loss to Daniel Cormier in the promotion's heavyweight grand prix last year -- White still left the door open to the Barnett-to-the-UFC possibility with a "we'll see" response to integrating the top free agent in the division.
With the last of the formalities out the way thanks to the dissolution of Strikeforce, it would seem like now is the time for the acrimonious pair to finally talk turkey after many turbulent years. However, Barnett -- who prefers to be a non-exclusive hired hitman -- would more than likely have to rethink his negotiation strategy.
"I just want to keep killing -- keep killing -- wading in pools of blood and guts until there is no one left to kill anymore," Barnett said immediately after submitting "The Hun" at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. "It doesn't matter where, I'm a mercenary, something will come up. Someone will need somebody's head taken and off and they'll call me, pay me and I'll show up and do my job..... I want to go everywhere. In a perfect world I could fight for every promotion in the world. But, it's not, far from it, which is the reason it needs to be eliminated. It must be burned to a cinder and rebuilt."
Barnett, who has competed for essentially every major mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion throughout the world such as Pride FC and Affliction, among others, during his 16-year career was -- at the time -- the youngest fighter to ever capture UFC championship with his technical knockout win over Randy Couture way back in 2002.
Shortly thereafter he was stripped of the belt because of a failed steroids test, triggering the more than decade-long rocky relationship with White and Co. One that he seemingly would like to now repair once and for all so that he can prove himself against the best talent the sport has to offer.
"I want to fight and the UFC has a fantastic line up of people who I could go out there and compete against," he said. "Its got a huge market share, its got all the market share. I'm being honest, but I'm not here to kowtow to anybody. I don't serve anyone and I don't serve any master at all. I'm sure that the best case scenario will present itself and I know that can be made to happen. It's just up to whoever wants to pay my price."
It's unclear what the "price" would be exactly even though his current deal with Strikeforce pays him a $200,000 flat-fee per fight. Barnett may be worth that amount -- he's a Top 5-ish heavyweight talent -- but aside from his superior skills and gift of self promotion -- he has no leverage.
Indeed, Barnett might think that there are other options out there, but he'll soon realize that they are few and far between. And it's unlikely that a "mercenary" like him would be content to fake fight on the Japanese professional wrestling circuit to make ends meet.
The good news is he might have an ace in the hole at the bargaining table: His manager.
"I don't deal with that [contract] shit," he concluded. "That's the reason we have smarmy managers. And mine is extra smarmy, I think that is is middle name."