Barnett file photo | Daniel Herbertson/Sherdog.com
was suspended by the California State Athletic
Commission in July 2009 for allegedly testing positive for an
anabolic steroid prior to his ill-fated bout with Fedor
, it triggered a one-year nationwide revocation of
his license to fight. That ban expired in July 2010 and, while
Barnett has yet to be granted relicensure in California, other
states are now free to license him.
It appears that could soon be the case, as Barnett was Tuesday
announced as part of Strikeforce’s upcoming eight-man heavyweight
tournament, which also includes Emelianenko, Fabricio
Kharitonov and heavyweight champion Alistair
Overeem. The three-round, single-elimination tourney will
feature five-round bouts, with the events being televised on
“It took us three months to put all this together,” Strikeforce CEO
Scott Coker told Sherdog.com. “Fedor wanted to do this
The tournament begins on Feb. 12 at the Izod Center in East
Rutherford, N.J., where two quarterfinal matchups --
Emelianenko-Silva and Arlovski-Kharitonov -- will take place.
Barnett’s quarterfinal bout against Rogers, as well as
Overeem-Werdum, is likely to happen sometime in April, Coker
“We are in the process of negotiating with a couple of venues, and
date, but we’re just not ready to announce them just yet,” Coker
One possible hitch to this dream lineup is Barnett. With the former
UFC champion’s status still up in the air due to a series of
miscommunications with the CSAC, the “Baby-Faced Assassin” will
still need to be granted a license somewhere in the U.S. in order
to compete in the tournament.
Speaking with ESPN.com, Coker stated that he had contacted multiple
state commissions who said that they would license Barnett if the
fighter were to furnish a negative drug test, similar to what he
gave the CSAC prior to his Dec. 2 hearing.
Two states Barnett likely will not be fighting in, aside from
California, are Nevada and New Jersey.
“Nevada isn’t on that list,” Coker told Sherdog.com. “Let him go
appeal to any state that has a commission. Josh has some work to do
in California. But he’s paid his dues. Let him make a living and go
to work. But I don’t think he’s going to be fighting in
Nick Lembo, legal counsel for the New Jersey State Athletic Control
Board, spoke exclusively with Sherdog.com.
“It’s real simple. He’s not currently licensed in New Jersey,” said
Lembo. “He does not have an application in with the state of the
New Jersey. I don’t have any comment other than we don’t have an
application, and I won’t make any comment about a
With at least two months before his date with Rogers, Barnett still
has time to appease a state commission with random drug testing and
other demonstrable acts of reformation. After allegedly testing
positive for steroids three times, it may take that much for
Barnett to be able to fight in the U.S. again.
Since his most recent suspension was handed down by the CSAC,
Barnett’s follow-up hearing with the commission has been postponed
George Dodd, CSAC executive director, said that Barnett is
currently “on the agenda” for the commission’s next quarterly
meeting on Feb. 4 in Los Angeles, but that Barnett’s chances for a
obtaining a California license are dwindling with each rescheduled
“I think the commission is getting to a point where it’s wasting
our time. It’s on the agenda. They got a continuance to the second
one. In the third one, he didn’t appear, but his lawyers appeared
and he was in Japan [doing pro-wrestling],” said Dodd. “He’s on the
agenda for Feb. 4. If he doesn’t contact me by Jan. 10, he won’t be
going in front of the commission. If everybody could just get
together, we could get this taken care of.”
Dodd added that counsel from the California State Attorney
General’s office will be present to question Barnett, who has
maintained throughout that he did not use illegal substances prior
to his latest positive test.
At the Dec. 2 meeting, Barnett initially seemed willing to be
cross-examined on his steroid use. Seated to his left was Alfredo
Terrazas, California Assistant Attorney General, who had obviously
prepared to question Barnett on his past usage and Barnett’s
ongoing defense that he did not use any banned substance.
Before Terrazas questioned Barnett, however, Dodd and other
commission members urged Barnett that it would not be in his
interest to go through the process without having his own legal
“I’m a little caught off-guard by this,” Barnett told the
commission. “I feel slightly unprepared and didn’t bring counsel.
That’s a very large point that was not brought to my
“You obviously thought this was a rubber-stamp [process for
renewal],” said Commissioner Eugene Hernandez.
Barnett disagreed, saying that it was merely a
Asked by Sherdog.com what Barnett would have to do at the Feb. 4
meeting in order to be relicensed, Dodd was succinct.
“Josh will not be licensed in California until he appears before
the commission and answers questions about past steroid usage, and
also [addresses] the question of rehabilitation to have his license
renewed,” Dodd said.
However, Dodd said, what other state commissions decide is entirely
up to them.
“Josh did his year, though he did fight overseas. That’s why you
leave it up to each commission,” Dodd said. “If New Jersey called
me up and asked, ‘What’s the situation?’ I’d tell them the same
thing. It’s up to your commission to determine what to do.”
This item was updated at 1:30 p.m. ET to clarify comments made
by Nick Lembo.
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