Mike Chiappetta, MMA Fighting
After the closing of Strikeforce last weekend and UFC On FX 7 this weekend there will be two notable free agents on the market, namely Barnett and Rampage. Bellator's CEO Bjorn Rebney explains his interest in each fighter.
Check out the video (via FightHub) of Rebney discussing all of this below.
As we reported Tuesday night, Ariel Helwani released a list of Strikeforce fighters confirmed to make the leap from the now defunct promotion to the UFC. One of the most notable absences on the list was Josh Barnett, one of only two Heavyweights on Strikeforce's roster.
Many have speculated that, if Barnett does not get picked up by the UFC, he could end up dominating Bellator's HW division. However, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney said that's not the case (via MMA Fighting):
Our focus right now is the next three months, Rebney continued. "Everything we're doing right now is focused on that. [Barnett] hasn't been a topic of conversation in our meetings with the staff. Josh is a great character and he's had some great fights, but its not really on our radar.
As for what's next for Barnett, according to statements from he and his manager to MMA Junkie, nothing is set yet. Barnett said, "It would take the right kind of deal to get me to be locked into some place entirely and exclusively." His manager added a few more details:
"We have not entered into negotiations with any company," manager Leland Labarre said. "We know the fans would love for Josh to fight in the UFC, and Josh would love to fight in the UFC, if that's the way things work out.
"We want to find something that's hopefully going to be his last contract and find a permanent home."
But passing on Barnett, doesn't mean Rebney's not interested in any high-profile free agents. It's no secret that UFC Light Heavyweight Quinton Jackson hasn't been happy in the UFC and is ready to move one after his fight with Glover Teixeira this Saturday at UFC On FX 7. And Bjorn will be keeping an eye on him after that final fight on his UFC contract:
He's an awesome, awesome fighter, and an incredible personality, and I've been a fan for a lot of years. How he could conceptually fit within the format and the structure we have? That is something where I would have to get people smarter than I around the table and discuss.
He's exciting, he's entertaining, but, that would be one of those square peg, round hole situations, but sometimes you can make those work. It would depend on a lot of stuff. It would depend on the legalities of where he is with the UFC. ... We'll see. Who knows.
For now we don't know where either of these MMA veterans will end up. Each would definitely bring a lot of talent into their respective Bellator divisions. However, their salaries would probably rival or eclipse the in the income from the live gate of any show they fought on.