UFC: Josh Barnett on Rankings, Nelson, Mir, & 160 HW picks (Interview exclusive)

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Freshly signed UFC heavyweight star, Josh Barnett gives an exclusive interview to Bloody Elbow, complete with his HW fight picks for UFC 160, thoughts on rankings, title shots and more.

The UFC just got a whole lot more metal with the signing of Josh Barnett. It's a contract we've all been waiting for, and now that it's happened, arm chair matchmakers are lining up the likely suspects in anticipation of the Warmaster taking them out, one by one. There are some great matches to be made, but one name stands out from the bunch, the man that should be first in line, and that's Frank Mir.

As a long time fan of Barnett, one of the things I look forward to, aside from the actual fight possibilities, is seeing him in the official rankings. I recently had the good fortune to land the first interview with Josh, post signing, and got his thoughts on some of the current heavyweights (including Mir), his picks for some of the fights coming up this weekend, and where he feels he is ranked. Here's what he had to say:

First opponent

I haven't heard anything yet. It's interesting, and I'd like to see who's got the guts, first off. At this point, it's so new, we haven't even picked the scabs off. I think everyone is basically thinking, 'Well who's left hanging around and who's ranked high enough?' At this point, I don't even know when they're going to have me get in the ring.

There's plenty of guys out there to fight, and they're going to line up whoever they think is the best and most exciting fight. I'm also pretty positive that whoever gets to be my first victim, because I don't have opponents, I have victims, is going to have to play second fiddle to me, after everything that has gone on between the UFC and myself over the years, and me finally being back and stepping into the cage.

Frank Mir

Here's the thing. I'm made out of titanium, mixed with adamantium, so I don't rust. Frank Mir, for lack of a better term, his ranking or anything else, is inconsequential to me. His name has just been thrown across my plate so many times. Many people have made mention of how much they want to see that fight. I guess it's about time, but it's not up to me. I only call people out because I see them as future opponents. If I want to fight somebody, I'll just go knock on their door and say, 'Hey, when you're done with dinner, why don't you go stretch out, put your mouth piece in and get your ass kicked.' Otherwise, I have to wait and see if he agrees to it, the management, and if the promotion likes the fight - that has a lot to do with it.

Rankings

Well, I'd be in a ranking class of one for most awesome ever of all time cool guy. That's a different league. It's a whole different parameter, so in that, I stand alone. It's kind of difficult [laughs].

I just go out there and fight. I like to have the rankings and all the numerics and everything left alone for all the diehard MMA fans. They're the ones to get around and chat and argue and start feuds that will last for centuries upon centuries over whether he though Joe Blow should have been seventh in the rankings.

I just want to get in there and mix it up with those guys. It's not going to take me much time at all to sort out where I sit. If all that's left is a bunch of broken bodies, then I guess I'm the only one that can be ranked.

How a fight with Roy Nelson would Shake Down

I think I could out shake him. I think I've got a good wiggle in my backside, and I'm pretty proficient at shaking my tail feathers. I like my chances against Roy in that case.

Roy's a tank. I think he's really settled into who he is as a fighter at this point. I think he knows his limitations and his strengths very well, and that's what's made him successful. I'm not going to call him a gatekeeper, because I think he fights the fights that he's given. He's not fighting the typically ranked opponents now, but he does fight the big fights when he gets himself in the position.

He's a deadly dude with a big right hand and a bigger, uh, love and appreciation of the finer gourmet of life. It would be alright to get in there with someone with worse abs than me, and that is something I really look forward to [laughs].

Repping Catch Wrestling on a Bigger Platform with the UFC

That's my job all the time, with everything I do competitive wise and in terms of martial arts. Being in the UFC doesn't really add or detract anything from that. It's a 24 hour, seven day a week job. It's the sort of thing where when you ARE something, you don't have to tell people. You just ARE it.

I'm a catch wrestler. I'm a professional wrestler. If you know me, my life reflects as such.It'll be nice to go out there and have the other shooters and catch guys see me succeed and to see the art be put into play in a modern environment. It'll bring a little smile to my face as an added bonus.

JDS / Mark Hunt Fight Pick

I'm gonna go with Hunt, just because I like the guy. He's got a wicked right hand, good kickboxing, and a good jaw. The key will be whether he can close the distance and keep it on the feet. I would not be surprised in the least if dos Santos does actually take him down, although we've never seen much of a takedown game out of him. I don't know how well he can execute and change up his strategy for the ring. Mark has gotten better with his takedown defense over the last five or six fights.

On the feet, Junior has got reach, he's very quick, he's got a very good jab. He's a heavyweight, so he can always knock you out, but he's not known for being a knockout puncher. That being said, if he can stay active and mobile, and just out of reach for most of the fight, he can win on points. I think it will come down to how close and how aggressive and how quick Hunt's feet are in terms of closing the gap.

Velasquez / Bigfoot Fight Pick

Cain is going to win again by TKO in the first or second. That's just too much speed for Bigfoot. If he keeps executing his single leg takedowns off his jab and right hand, I just don't see Bigfoot being able to do much with him. It'snot gonna ever be a submission scenario because I just don't think Cain is going to stay around long enough to allow Bigfoot to really grapple with him. When it comes to being on the feet,

Bigfoot has a fist the size of a pumpkin pie. If he hits ya, he can knock anybody out, but he's been prone to keeping his head and chin real high. He has some speed going in one direction, but he's not really able to change directions. I'm sure after the Cormier fight and their first fight, Cain and his trainer's have probably settled on what is probably a pretty foolproof strategy in which to elicit the difference in speed between the two.

Alistair Overeem

Well, I think he has fantastically defined trapezius muscles, for sure. I think that his last fight was a condition of a choice that he made in the ring, and it was his fight to lose. To be honest, I was really surprised that he lost it in the fashion that he did, but don't sleep on a guy like that. It's just not a good idea.

That fight interests me, and you know what, any specific fight interests me now. They've all got to get their asses kicked eventually. Just put them on a conveyor belt, and I'll just keep taking them off. I've just been doing this stuff for so long. I think I'm the only guy from my era still around.

I was around before the UFC as it exists now was around. It was the dark ages when monks had to cluster up in a little room together with like a single candle, writing down all the bout orders and the promotional agreements [laughs].

Title Shots and Name Recognition

I'm the only guy that can walk in there with a UFC belt that has never had it taken form me by an opponent. When it comes to signing a bout agreement for a title fight, I'll do it in my enemy's blood, and there won't be any reason to doubt or question how I got there and whether I deserve to be in there for that title.

Career Longevity

I will bloody my hands until the last breath is torn from me.

I've got to say, I've known Josh for several years, and back in 2006, when Evan Shoman, Ryan Loco and I got started doing a little show called CageSide Live, Josh was one of our first guests, and quicly became our most regular one. This marked the 19th time I've had the pleasure of interviewing him over the years, but for me, it's the best one, because I, like so many of you, can finally see the Baby Faced Assassin get in the octagon and do serious work. Bring the pain! (Sorry, I'm still emotional here)

You can follow Josh via his Twitter account, @JoshLBarnett

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