Josh Barnett made his long-awaited return to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Octagon last weekend (Aug. 31, 2013) at UFC 164 by knocking out former two-time heavyweight champion Frank Mir in the very first round (relive it here).
While his return was a smashing success, "The Warmaster" feels his win lost a little bit of its luster due to the fact that Mir was complaining about an early stoppage, to go along with the ensuing boos Barnett had to endure from the Milwaukee, Wisconsin crowd.
Though not Barnett's decision, the stoppage was questionable, depending on how you look at it. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, the referee on duty made the call to protect Mir from further damage, giving Josh his second straight win.
Still, Barnett feels his victory was "cheapened" and he was denied the proper chance to soak in all of the spoils of his hard work, thanks to the controversy that followed (via Sherdog Beatdown Radio):
"It does cheapen the win to some degree, but also what makes it difficult is that he gets up and says what he wants to say and I can't just slug him and knock him out again.The problem with that is, the repercussions would be bad. I told him, I go, ‘Well, I understand why you're upset and I'd be mad if I felt it was stopped early too.' ... There was a little understanding on my part, but I was also visibly -- I was incredibly upset myself because I felt like I got robbed of the moment. I did all this training. We get in the ring. We're not there to be friends. I put this man on his face, and all of a sudden all that time spent getting up to this point, I feel like that's my time. I get to cash in for all the sacrifices I've put in ... and I get denied."
The win marked Barnett's tenth in his last 11 bouts, with his lone loss during that span coming to top contender Daniel Cormier in 2012.
Indeed, his latest "W" solidifies his spot as a top contender in the heavyweight division and inches him closer to a potential title shot down the road, proving that, despite an 11-year hiatus from the sport's top proving grounds, he still has what it takes to compete with the best big men around.
And while his next foe is yet-to-be determined, you can bet your bottom dollar the former "Baby Faced Assassin" will do his best to finish his next opponent even more convincingly to avoid any and all controversy the next time around.
Mir has already found another dance partner, so who should Barnett get next?