While the deal isn’t official just yet, Josh Barnett expects to finalize his UFC release in the coming days.
The longtime heavyweight contender, who returned to the promotion after the Strikeforce buyout back in 2011, is looking to continue his career outside the Octagon after just five fights, which resulted in a 3-2 record with two finishes.
“It’s true that I have asked for my release and we are discussing the terms now,” Barnett told ESPN. “Zuffa has been fantastic and above-board since I re-signed with the company. Every promise made has been kept and I have no disparaging words for them.”
Blame United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
“After everything I went through with USADA, and my vindication in that case, I don’t feel comfortable giving the control necessary to USADA that would continue my career in the UFC,” he said.
Barnett (35-8), who popped for the banned substance ostarine during an out-of-competition test administered in late 2016, avoided a suspension from mixed martial arts (MMA) after being cleared by an arbitrator last March, a case that cost him a significant chunk of time away from competition.
It will be interesting to see how this all shakes out, but an eventual return to Japan seems likely.