Former Heavyweight Champion Josh Barnett Returns to UFC


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Josh Barnett’s return to the UFC is imminent.

Sherdog.com confirmed the development with a source close to the deal, who relayed that Barnett and the UFC have agreed to material terms for a multi-fight contract. MMAJunkie.com first reported Barnett’s signing Tuesday night.

One of the heavyweight division’s most seasoned veterans, Barnett, 35, made his professional MMA debut in 1997 and rattled off nine straight wins before joining the UFC in 2000. “The Warmaster” won three of his first four Octagon outings and then captured the heavyweight title from Randy Couture in 2002, only to later see the title stripped from him after testing positive for banned substances.

Barnett departed the UFC and went on to build a successful career in Japan, becoming the openweight King of Pancrase before moving on to the Pride Fighting Championships and then Sengoku. Barnett eventually signed with Strikeforce, where he defeated Brett Rogers and Sergei Kharitonov to advance in the promotion’s 2011 heavyweight grand prix. The man formerly known as “The Baby-Faced Assassin” would see his tournament run come to a halt in the finals, however, as Barnett was bested by the highly-regarded Daniel Cormier in a memorable five-round confrontation last year.

Barnett most recently competed on Jan. 12 at Strikeforce’s final event, tearing through an overmatched Nandor Guelmino and forcing the Austrian heavyweight to submit to a first-round arm-triangle choke. Known for his catch-wrestling expertise, Barnett owns 20 of his 32 career wins by way of submission.

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