Though Josh Barnett declined his first Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) contract offer, it seems not all hope is lost for fight fans waiting for "The Warmaster" to mix it up with the big boys of the best mixed martial arts (MMA) organization on the planet.
After defeating relatively unknown Nandor Guelmino at Strikeforce: "Marquardt vs. Saffiedine" in the very first round earlier this year, in what was the final event for the San Jose-based fight promotion, the former PRIDE FC heavyweight contender hasn't stepped foot inside a cage.
But getting the itch to fight again and looking to cement his legacy, Barnett knows there is only one place where he can accomplish that, and that is fighting inside the world-famous Octagon where he once ruled the 265-pound roost.
And while early negotiations didn't go smoothly between he and UFC officials, the former "Baby-Faced Assassin" and his management team are still hoping for a better offer as he recently declared on "The MMA Hour:"
"I would love to fight in the UFC next. I've been a top 10 fighter longer than anybody active in mixed martial arts at this time. And there's a real good reason for that. To be in the UFC would mean to go back to where I already won the belt, to go back to where I was a champion at 24 years old, and try to cement my legacy as an MMA fighter. I don't really feel I can create that legacy and finish on a high point unless I'm there. So, there is a very strong draw for me to fight for UFC, not just for my personal pleasure of me smashing all these dude's faces in, that everyone thinks are so fantastically awesome, for whatever reason."
For Josh, there are still two sides to the MMA game: The physical aspect as well as the business side of things. And as Barnett declares, he won't start punching people until the offer is right:
"Well, I think the right deal just hasn't put itself together. There's been a lot of good pieces. These promotions have a lot to offer in terms of competition, promotional value, and opportunity to show the fights to a large audience. The fighting part of it, I'm game for all of it. I think it'd be a blast no matter where. But you can't just run out and start punching people without thinking about the business aspects of it. Between me and my manager, the right scenario just hasn't presented itself just yet."
Company president Dana White revealed had Barnett signed on the dotted line a few months back, his first bout would have been against former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos. But, according to Barnett, fans seem to be pining for a fight between he and former three-time champion Frank Mir.
An idea "The Warmaster" isn't opposed to:
"With Frank, it's just the one fight everyone brings to me. I think part of that stems from us being American submission guys, and being big dudes, and having the fight between [Antonio Rodrigo] Nogueira and Mir, me and Nogueira, there's some commonality between opponents. I can understand why fans look at it in that way. And honestly, yeah, Frank's been around a long time. I'd have absolutely no issue fighting him in any way, shape, or form. I think it would be something that would get people excited, but I'll be honest. If I'm just being humble, I think I get people excited anyways."
While he didn't go into exact details, Barnett declared that the issues that prevented him from signing with UFC a few months back was a "very simple thing." However, a respectful Barnett decided to withhold comment in order to avoid making UFC officials look like "the bad guys" and throw them under the bus.
Apparently, it might not have all been about the dollars and cents.
Anyone out there still holding their breath in hopes that Barnett and UFC finally reach a mutual agreement?