Affliction hopes so, and that's their plain. To wit:
Tom Atencio, vice president for Affliction, recognizes that Barnett has beaten a number of MMA superstars, yet remains anonymous to the new generation of MMA fans because of fighting in Asia the last few years.
One of my goals is to make Josh famous. He fought Randy Couture. He deserves recognition here," Atencio said during a conference call. "When he fights in Japan everybody knows him there."
Outside of Kimbo Slice and Gina Carano, there really aren't any other major MMA stars that aren't products of the UFC machine. And that's a tragedy because Barnett has everything it takes to be marketable as a major star: aggressive style, well-rounded abilities, the ability to do interviews on camera/radio and pro-wrestling showmanship (remember, Barnett has done pro-wrestling in Japan).
But there's absolutely zero chance he'll ever end up with the UFC. He and Dana absolutely loathe one another and Barnett realizes he can always be popular and have a lucrative career in Japan. But as for Affliction's aims, it will be a real test of their penetration into this market if they turn one of the best, most marketable fighters into a legitimate MMA star. Let that serve as a very real and necessary litmus test.