When Josh Barnett entered the Octagon against Travis Browne at UFC 168, he was seemingly only one or two fights away from earning a shot at the UFC heavyweight title. One minute into that December 28, 2013 fight that talked ceased when Browne landed a knee to the head of Barnett, and followed that strike with elbows to bring their fight to an end.
With that loss, the conversation regarding the 36-year-old former UFC heavyweight champion went from a possible title shot to wondering if Barnett should hang up the gloves.
Barnett (33-7), appearing on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour, made it clear that he was not about to retire, telling Ariel Helwani, "I still want to fight. Even if I thought to myself that I wanted to retire, there's no way I can stop fighting after that. I feel a lot of humiliation and regret. I couldn't sit with that.
All the fans that believe in me, all my coaches, all my friends and family, there's just no way. I couldn't let anything end like that. I know I have so much better to give."
With that, Barnett revealed that he had come up with a "12-step program to return to UFC fighting dominance." Those 12 steps are:
1. Remove outside distractions and focus solely on fighting
2. Move camp away from home, narrow focus, remove convenience
3. Pre-camp harder
4. Increase flexibility
5. Work more on weaknesses
6. Spend more time on recovery
7. Work on learning a new language
Steps 1-6 are things Barnett feels he has fallen short on as of late. As he said, "After 17 years, you just can't do everything thing like you used to. Sometimes you have to make tweaks and find new ways to stay fresh and to stay on top of things. It's too easy to be in a loop doing what you've done before."
Barnett is clearly aware that he can't just show up and expect to dominate his opponents; he knows he has to make things uncomfortable for himself in order to succeed. That's evident from steps 1-6 in his 12-step program. As for steps 7-12, Barnett acknowledged, "I kind of started to run out of other things to put down."
Barnett does not have an opponent for his next fight, but as he said when talking about Step No. 3, he plans on being ready for whoever that opponent is when he gets the call. His concept of pre-camp harder is to "Spend most of my time prepping for camp and staying ready instead of getting ready."
Barnett is currently ranked No. 6 in the UFC's heavyweight division, while the man the defeated him, Travis Browne is ranked at No. 3.
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