Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Heavyweight star and free agent, Josh Barnett, opens up on a wide variety of topics for our readers in this interview exclusive.
This past Saturday night marked the end of Strikeforce, and dashed the hopes of several fighters counting on wins to get those coveted UFC contracts. Despite talks that the fights were 'must win' deals to come over to the larger organization, there were some inconsistencies. Some (Daniel Cormier) were guaranteed to come over, some lost and still got picked up (Kurt Holobaugh, KJ Noons), and there's even a winner (Josh Barnett), who has no set course of action at present. Of all the fighters, in all other outside organizations, Barnett is the one I personally would like to see most in the UFC. Admittedly, I am a big fan, but the potential fights that could be made there really sparks the matchmaker in me, as I'm sure it does many other hardcore fans. I recently got a quick interview with Josh, and spoke to him on a variety of topics.
Stephie Daniels: What are your overall thoughts on how quickly you dispatched your opponent, despite the fact that you went into the fight sick?
Josh Barnett: Well, it definitely helps to be healthy, but the training that I got from a very early on stage of being a martial artist, starting with Jim Harrison and Matt Hume and moving all the way up to Erik Paulson, means that I've got a lot more in my arsenal than your average bear. I've been through so many different fights over the years, that I had a really unique advantage when it comes to handling a situation like that, and how to make those adjustments.
Stephie Daniels: You've been with Erik Paulson for several years now. Have you ever considered getting training somewhere else, or do you feel that moving around from training camp to training camp is not good for career longevity?
Josh Barnett: I stick with what's good. I don't really see an advantage in going to a bunch of different camps. I'm not against training with other people and sampling or taking from different philosophies, or doing something different in the interest of giving their mind a jump start. But, when you've got camps, and you've got to get ready for a fight, you need to stick with what works and what needs to be done. It may seem arrogant, but even with all the MMA coaches that exist out there, in this sport, I highly doubt that many of them have much to show me at this point.
Stephie Daniels: Do you think that multiple training camp jumps is a common mistake these up and coming fighters are making, in that that the first time they lose, they want to jump ship?
Josh Barnett: Well, I think most fighters are incompetent when it comes to understanding this game. Most are just a bunch of athletes that are put through a routine, that go out and execute that, until they lose a bit of athleticism, or until the main aspect of their routine that made them successful fails, so then they have nothing else to go back on.
The first thing they want to do is drop a weight class, but they haven't changed the factor that made them lose in the first place. They're just not a good enough fighter yet. They need to learn to be more skilled, and learn how to adapt in a scenario, instead of just going out there like a robot, and doing the same thing.
Then they want to go in and change camps. Sometimes it works for these guys because mentally, it resets them, and they think, 'Oh, I'm invincible again', until they lose, and then all Hell breaks loose. Then they start scrambling like mad. One fight, won or lost, does not make a career.
Stephie Daniels: Daniel Cormier is talking about a potential drop down to 205. Do you think that's a wise move?
Josh Barnett: I don't know. I would stay at heavyweight if I was him. At the end of the day, the one they want to see with the belt around their waist, the ones the fans want to see, are the heavyweights. That's where the money is. That's where the interest lies.
Stephie Daniels: Speaking of money and interest, many people want to see you in the UFC. Are you any closer to putting the ink to the paper on that deal?
Josh Barnett: No idea.
Stephie Daniels: Are you being courted by other organizations? One would imagine that several of these promoters are positively salivating at the prospect of signing you to their brand.
Josh Barnett: Well, I haven't had to wash off any saliva from my pants yet [laughs]. I wouldn't be surprised if my manager is hotly debating with many folks.
Stephie Daniels: Are there any sticking points that you've laid out for your manager for contract negotiations, or do you pretty much leave it in his hands?
Josh Barnett: There is some discourse about what is acceptable and what isn't, but I do feel like my manager and I are on the same page.
Stephie Daniels: If all things fell into place, and you do end up in the UFC, is there somebody you'd like to meet in the octagon first?
Josh Barnett: Not really [laughs]. I don't really care.
Stephie Daniels: In your professional opinion, how do you think the Alistair Overeem Antonio Silva fight is going to play out?
Josh Barnett: Alistair will probably get the knockout in the first round. I think that those are two, "go big" heavyweights, and I just think that Alistair has a good amount of size and a better reach, which will be great for him in setting up the shots against Bigfoot, who doesn't have the best head movement. Being in the middle of Alistair's fire power is a bad place to be for him.
Stephie Daniels: Where do you see fighters making the biggest mistake in their wrestling game when you watch these guys compete?
Josh Barnett: They do this "one and done" thing. They go in on a shot, or something, and they try one finish, and if it gets blocked, they stop moving, and then they end up in a stalemate, wasting energy trying to hold on to people instead of hitting one move to the next to the next, and finishing the takedown, and spending the energy there. They end up in a slower grind, and not getting anywhere.
Stephie Daniels: In your opinion, what is the best wrestling tool an athlete can apply to an MMA fight?
Josh Barnett: Probably the timing on your shot. It's not so much about which move to use, so much as it is about when you do it. George St. Pierre has got pretty much the best takedowns in MMA, and that's because he always comes in at the right moment. That kind of timing is absolutely important and that's why he's so successful at getting all his opponents to the ground.
Stephie Daniels: In your fight with Cormier, you sustained a bad fracture to your hand. How is the health of your hand, and have you set a time frame for when you would like to finish out your career?
Josh Barnett: The hands are good. I drink lots of milk [laughs]. The limit on my athletic potential is still yet to be known.
Stephie Daniels: How many more times would you like to fight this year?
Josh Barnett: Another couple times would be nice. It all depends on how everything works out.
Stephie Daniels: What in MMA pisses you off the most right now, and alternately, what excites you the most about it?
Josh Barnett: What pisses me off the most is the glut of mediocre and forgettable matches that are flooding the airwaves. What excites me the most is ... uh, hmmm ... [laughs] I'm not a hater or anything, it's just that I have a different sort of opinion when it comes to MMA, and I've breathed and lived it for so long, that my view points on it are a lot different. I really do enjoy the few fighters out there that are real killers, though. The ones that go for the finish from beginning to end is something that will always get me to be interested.
Stephie Daniels: Who do you think are the killers in the sport?
Stephie Daniels: How much emphasis do you think should be put on the talking and self promotion (think Chael Sonnen) in order to be successful?
Josh Barnett: It all matters. You should concentrate on being the absolute best fighter you can be. That's where your focus should lie. When someone puts a mic in front of you, you should just be yourself, and say what you feel, within reason. They may go out and espouse their political beliefs, and I may disagree with them, but I 100% support their right to say whatever they want, as long as they take responsibility for it when they're done. It's OK to have an opinion. Just be yourself and be sincere. If part of that means that you're going to go out there and do a schtick, then go out there and do the schtick, but commit fully to it.
Andy Kaufman did obnoxious things that really polarized audiences, but he committed 100% to whatever he was doing, and that's what made it matter. It's the same thing for MMA. If you're going to do a schtick of a disrespectful, trash talking fighter, then do it, and do it 100%. If you're going to go out there and be Mr. Humble Humility Guy, really be humble and have that humility. Let it show. If people don't like you, don't change who you are for them. If they don't like you, it doesn't mean that they don't care. It just means that you're having an effect.
Stephie Daniels: What are your thoughts on the landscape of women's MMA, and more specifically, Shayna Baszler's last fight?
Josh Barnett: I'm glad to see women's MMA in the UFC, but I want to see how it progresses from this point. Invicta's fights have been pretty fantastic. The stream was quite horrible, but that's not entirely Invicta's fault. Shayna's last fight didn't exactly go the way we wanted it to, and I'll talk with her in terms of the strategy and pure fight aspect. She didn't tap on that choke, which is very commendable, and fought to the end.
Stephie Daniels: What is some music that people might not suspect that you listen to?
Josh Barnett: Adam and the Ants, Sleater Kinney, Minus the Bear, Jamiroquai. I listen to classical, too. I can't name too many of the pieces, because the names are so convoluted and difficult to pronounce [laughs], but I like Mozart and Rachmaninov and Wagner, you know, the usuals. I'm a fan of all that.
You can follow Josh via his Twitter account, @JoshLBarnett
Related video: Josh Barnett talks about his win over Nandor Guelmino and his future after his final Strikeforce fight with MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani.