UFC 164: Josh Barnett says fighters of today fight for 'glory' where he fought for 'blood' and 'honor'

Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE

Longtime MMA veteran Josh Barnett gives his take on the difference between the “athletic” fighters of today, compared to the “tough” veterans of yesteryear.

Josh Barnett is one of the few combat sports veterans who have been able to parlay fighting into a long and prosperous career, competing in mixed martial arts (MMA) for over 16 years.

Some may even go so far as to call him a legend.

From winning the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight title at UFC 36 by defeating Randy Couture, to competing under the PRIDE FC banner -- during a time when the 265-pound field was considered the best in the sport -- "The Warmaster" has truly competed against the best-of-the-best.

Grueling battles against the likes of Mirko Filipovic and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, coupled with impressive wins over Mark Hunt and Semmy Schilt (just to name a few) solidified Barnett's status as a one of the top big men in the sport.

Now, almost a decade since he last competed inside the Octagon, Barnett returns to the UFC ranks to face a new breed of fighter.

And while Josh recognizes the talent and athleticism of today's big man, "The Baby-Faced Assassin" says there is no comparison, as far as toughness goes, when talking about the foes he faced years back, as opposed to today.

From this week's UFC 164 media conference call.

"I fought when there was no money from fighting. I fought when you couldn't even buy MMA gear at your local sports store or whatever. We had to make it ourselves. I fought when most of the time we didn't even wear gloves. We were under attack from all angles. There wasn't really an audience hardly. There wasn't much fame. The only real reason to do it was because you just had a never-ending desire to get in there and bathe in blood. Today, there is the opportunity to branch out and to be a part of things that are outside of fighting. It has a broader acceptance from mainstream public. There's a lot more notoriety with this and a much bigger public spotlight that comes with it. As far as making a living, it's a far better opportunity now than it was when I started. I think that a lot of guys fight not for the reasons that we used to fight for. There's a lot of guys that get in here and they just want to get in, make a run, think that they're going to be famous, make a lot of money, what have you. They fight for glory, where we fought for blood and for honor. There's still great, true fighters coming out of this, but these guys aren't quite as tough as they used to be. They're way better athletes, they're much better prepared, but some of these guys, they don't have that grit."

Love him or hate him, the outspoken heavyweight truly tells it like it is and isn't afraid to speak his mind.

With 38 professional MMA fights under his belt, the longtime contender looks to make perhaps one final run at a UFC title in an era dominated by younger and faster athletes.

But first, the 35 year-old must take on another grizzled veteran at UFC 164 as he faces off against former two-time UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir on Aug. 31, 2013 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in a battle that pits two of the more experienced big men remaining in MMA.

While Mir admitted during the call that Barnett would have defeated him had they fought 10 years ago, Josh would probably love nothing more than to prove he can defeat him today, as well

And perhaps show that he still has what it takes to give the younger heavyweights a fit or two.


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