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UFC 164's Josh Barnett doesn't recognize Frank Mir's UFC heavyweight title

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To be the man, you have to beat the man. And according to Josh Barnett, since he was never defeated for his UFC Heavyweight title, Frank Mir never wore the real belt around his waist.

Esther Lin for MMA Fighting

When Josh Barnett won the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight title at UFC 36 more than one decade ago with a knockout Randy Couture, "Warmaster" never got the opportunity to defend it.

That's because he pissed hot for banned substances immediately after his win over "The Natural," forcing UFC officials to strip him of the title, which eventually lead to Barnett abandoning the Octagon to compete overseas.

Two years later at UFC 48, Frank Mir won his first world title, breaking Tim Sylvia's arm in less than minute. But, according to Barnett, the strap that was placed around Mir's waist wasn't a legitimate belt because Barnett never lost the real one.

At least that's what "Baby-Faced Assassin" told MMA's Great Debate Radio (via Bleacher Report):

"I think we've always kind of been in different places for both of our careers, really. Even when he was fighting for titles, no one ever took my belt from me, so I don't what belt they were putting around (his waist), but that wasn't the UFC heavyweight title as far as I was concerned. I was in Pride fighting the universally recognized top dudes in the world at the time. I come back to the UFC, and the UFC is now the premiere place to be for mixed martial arts in the world, but at this point, Frank's best days have already occurred."

Indeed, a fight between the two big men has always been a high-profile match for which mixed martial arts (MMA) fans had clamored. But, with both men fighting in different organizations on opposite sides of the globe, the bout never came to fruition.

Now, more than one decade after both men won their first UFC titles, the accomplished pair will finally locks horns inside the Octagon when they meet in the co-main event of UFC 164 on Aug. 31, 2013, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. And even though they're not quite in the prime of their respective careers, the Heavyweight showdown still holds intrigue for most.

While a title shot for either isn't exactly a given, seeing as how Mir is currently on two-fight skid and Barnett's last win was against Nandor Guelmino, "Warmaster" says if and when his shot at the belt comes, he will consider it his first-ever title defense.

He explains:

"For me if I'm issued a title shot, when I walk in the ring in my mind, I'm not fighting to win the UFC championship, I'm actually making my first title defense. That's the way I see it."

Does a win over Mir earn Barnett a championship opportunity next or would he need to rack up a few more inside the Octagon first?