In 2002 Josh Barnett defeated Randy Couture to capture the UFC heavyweight title. Shortly after that win, the UFC would reclaim the title from Barnett when he tested positive for banned substances after his second round TKO victory over Couture at UFC 36.
The UFC and Barnett went their separate ways after that, and Barnett wandered the MMA landscape for the next 11 years, eventually rejoining the promotion in 2013. Now 36-years-old and ranked No. 6 in the UFC heavyweight division, Barnett will face No. 5 ranked Travis Browne at UFC 168 on Saturday.
The stakes are high for the fight, with the winner very likely matching up against No. 2 ranked Fabricio Werdum in what could be a title elimination fight.
At the pre-fight press conference for Saturday's event, Barnett was asked how he prepared for the unusual striking style of Browne, which has earned Browne 11 knockouts in 15 victories. Barnett's reply, "Being from the Pacific Northwest, we have the giant Pacific octopus. We put some gloves on one of those and just sort of hopped it up on a bunch of Xyience and spun it around the ring at me. I figured it couldn't be any more unusual than that.
Unfortunately, I didn't do that well. It inked me in the face, and I couldn't see, and it got a whole bunch of shots off. Luckily, to my knowledge, while Travis has grown a very regal beard, which I am quite impressed with, I don't think he squirts ink. So, I feel pretty confident there."
During Barnett's reply, Browne, unlike many in attendance, failed to crack even a hint of a smile at Barnett's quip.
Barnett's quick wit was also on display when the question of his advancing age came up, "I'm an old guy. I don't get that frustrated. As long as the wheels on my walker are greased, I'm good.
I'm looking forward to the day I can eat my dinner at five and get it for a discounted rate, and I think the new Rascal's that are coming out are very stylish. They're a little quicker too. You know me, I'm a big car guy."
No matter how easy going Barnett comes across outside of the cage, he is deadly serious once the door locks behind him. Something he reminded everyone of when he said, "I'm serious about not just winning this fight, but any fight you put in front of me."
On Saturday, Barnett and Browne will face off during the main card of UFC 168 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas
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