Strikeforce's prodigal heavyweight Josh Barnett cleared the last major hurdle blocking the completion of their long-delayed Heavyweight Grand Prix today when the California State Athletic Commission agreed to issue him a license to fight. Barnett is expected to face Daniel Cormier in the finals of that tournament on May 19th.
Barnett had not been licensed in California since failing a pre-licensing test in August of 2009. That drug test failure forced the cancellation of his bout with Fedor Emelianenko and resulted in the end of the Affliction fight promotion. Barnett re-applied for a license from California a year after the 2009 failure but withdrew his application after a series of snafus that saw him miss meetings and then appear without a lawyer and refuse to answer questions he perceived to be hostile.
Today's hearing involved Barnett attempting to explain how he failed the 2009 test while denying that he had intentionally ingested steroids. He blamed tainted supplements but offered no specific evidence. The commission staff bristled at the suggestion that there were flaws in their testing regime but were mollified when Barnett backed down from any such assertions.
The commission required Barnett to submit to random urine testing to receive a license. Normally fighters are only tested immediately before bouts.
Barnett failed two tests in 2002, the second of which resulted in his being stripped of his UFC belt.