"Hard times have been on Josh Barnett."
That line, borrowed from a famous Dusty Rhodes promo, has become the battle cry for "The Baby Faced Assassin," who takes on Brett Rogers tonight (June 18, 2011) at Strikeforce: "Overeem vs. Werdum" in Dallas, Texas.
That location is notable because it was the easiest route to getting the troubled star licensed to compete in the heavyweight grand prix tournament.
You see, part of the hard times involving the former UFC champion are the fact that he single-handedly brought down an entire mixed martial arts promotion.
Well, that might be a bit of a stretch.
His failed drug test before his fight against Fedor Emelianenko at Affliction: "Trilogy" caused the complete cancellation of that event and partially led to Affliction Entertainment folding as a promotion and selling out to UFC.
That's what has been hanging over Barnett's head since all the way back in 2009 ... that and the other two failed drug tests in his career.
It's unfortunate, too, because he's one hell of a fighter and he'll get the chance to prove just that, as well as advance in the grand prix, tonight against Rogers.
If there was ever a case of a fighter coming up through the ranks by demolishing everyone in his path only to run into an absolute brick wall, it's Brett Rogers.
"The Grim" bricked and blasted his way to a 10-0 record in his professional career from 2006 to 2009. Only two of those fights made it out of the first round.
Talk about swift power.
His tenth victory came against former UFC Heavyweight Champion Andrei Arlovski, a 22 second destruction that effectively put the former Sam's Club employee on the map.
Sometimes, though, the best of times lead straight into the worst of times.
Defeating "The Pitbull" in the manner in which he did, led Rogers into a fight against Fedor Emelianenko. You know, that Russian heavyweight legend that just so happens to be one of the greatest that ever lived.
Brett was viciously knocked out in the second round.
All was not lost, however, thanks to a sever lack of depth in the Strikeforce heavyweight division. Coming off that crushing defeat, Rogers was actually awarded a title shot against division champion Alistair Overeem.
Brett was thrown around and taken out inside the opening frame.
One would think it might be difficult to hold those two losses against him in a way that disparages his career accomplishments beforehand but that's exactly what's happening. The fact that his rebound fight, against Ruben Villareal, was as close as it was (Rogers won by decision) hasn't helped matters.
While Barnett is attempting to win the fans hearts once again, Rogers will just be out to prove he's worth more than the passing glance he's been given since falling on hard times himself back in Nov. 2009.
There's a lot to gain in Dallas tonight. Maybe that Mavericks championship glory will rub off a bit.