Josh BarnettJosh Barnett will be returning to the UFC after an 11-year absence to take on fellow former heavyweight champion Frank Mir in Milwaukee on Saturday night.

With nine wins in his last ten fights, Barnett is clearly still a force to be reckoned with in the heavyweight division. More than that, he believes he is still the champion because he hasn’t lost a fight in the Octagon since winning the title at UFC 36.

“When I walk in the ring, in my mind, I’m making my first title defense. That’s the way I see it,” he said on a recent episode of MMA’s Great Debate.

Barnett’s last UFC outing was in March 2002 when he stopped Randy Couture in the second round to win a belt that he would subsequently be stripped of after testing positive for a banned substance.

Barnett went on to fight for Pride, where he faced the likes of Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, Mark Hunt and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. The 35-year-old compared Mir’s career fighting in the UFC unfavorably with his own, while he competed in Japan.

“We’ve always been in different places, even when he was fighting for titles. No one ever took my belt from me, so I don’t know what belt they were swinging around, but that wasn’t the UFC heavyweight title as far as I was concerned and I was off at Pride fighting the top dudes in the world at the time.”

There is no doubt that when Mir first won the belt by submitting Tim Sylvia at UFC 48, most of the top heavyweights in the world were competing elsewhere. Zuffa’s buyout of Pride changed all that and Barnett is looking forward to testing himself against the division’s elite.

“I’ve come back to the UFC and the UFC is now the premier place to be for MMA,” Barnett said.

He feels that Mir is past his prime, but says he will not be taking this fight lightly.

“At this point Frank’s best days have already occurred, but you can’t underestimate people because you set yourself up for a downfall and I don’t think of Frank as being a bad fighter. A fighter might lose ten in a row, but they got a history of winning 30 before it and any moment there could be the one fight where they manage to pull it together and come back to their championship best and it only takes one fight.”

At this stage, Mir would be entitled to point out that he is almost two years younger than Barnett, but the “War Master” feels that, stylistically, this is a very good match-up for him.

“I think he’s very good (on the ground). He doesn’t have a very ‘jiu-jitsuesque’ style of grappling, but he’s a big dude, explosive and I believe he wrestled high school. So when it comes to grappling, there’s not a whole lot that he hasn’t seen before, but when it comes to application and putting things together, I don’t think he’s going to be able to find training partners that grapple the way I do. If it does go to the ground, I can shut down his offense and make him pay for being underneath.”

The official UFC rankings have Frank Mir at No. 6, while Barnett sits at No. 10. After fighting for Sengoku, Dream, Affliction and Strikeforce in recent years, Barnett is happy to finally be getting the recognition that comes from competing for the leading MMA promotion on the planet.

“For quite some time after Pride folded, anyone who was in the UFC got ranked higher than me and a lot of Frank’s relevancy was based on being in the UFC. I want to see how much potential there really is there by fighting him and, honestly, I don’t really care too much about rankings, but you see it and you think ‘this idiot thinks that?’ It gives you that much more motivation when you are getting your workout done.”

Like many fighters, Barnett has done double-duty in Hollywood. He was recently enlisted as a fight coordinator on the soon to be released Keanu Reeves movie “Man of Tai Chi.”

For the time being, however, he is fully focused on UFC 164 and while Barnett did make some disparaging remarks about Mir’s cardio, he added that he has no intention of trying to grind out a decision victory.

“I’m a finisher and I don’t want to be in there 15 minutes; I’d rather be in there five or less.”

Be sure to Like on Facebook and Follow @MMAWeeklycom on Twitter.

view original article >>

Report here if this news is invalid.

Related News

UFC 193 Results: 3 Fights to Make for a Dethroned Ronda Rousey

  • 14 days ago

Holly Holm made history at UFC 193 by dethroning Ronda Rousey from her bantamweight reign, and she did so in spectacular fashion with a stone-cold knockout via head kick at 0:59 of Round 2. It was sh read news >>

UFC leans toward Holly Holm vs. Ronda Rousey rematch, new champ agrees

  • 15 days ago

MELBOURNE, Australia – The UFC doesn’t usually make fights on fight night. But in the case of the spectacular upset seen at UFC 193, the promotion might make an exception. Filed under: Featured, Feat read news >>

Joanna Jedrzejczyk looking to make statement at UFC 193 (Yahoo Sports)

  • 17 days ago

From Yahoo Sports: The strawweight champion plans to put on a show and capitalize on the immense exposure from top draw Ronda Rousey. read news >>

Joanna Jedrzejczyk looking to make statement at UFC 193 (Yahoo Sports)

  • 17 days ago

From Yahoo Sports: The strawweight champion plans to put on a show and capitalize on the immense exposure from top draw Ronda Rousey. read news >>

MMAjunkie reader predictions: Make your picks for 'UFC 193: Rousey vs. Holm'

  • 20 days ago

After a 5-0 sweep at UFC Fight Night 77, we want your predictions for Saturday’s “UFC 193: Rousey vs. Holm” main card in Australia.Filed under: News, UFC read news >>

UFC 197 Confirmed for Rio in March; Could Anderson Silva Make the Card?

  • 22 days ago

The Ultimate Fighting Championship announced on Saturday that UFC 197 will take place in Rio de Janeiro in March. Could Anderson Silva make his return there? read news >>

UFC Fight Night 77 results: Viscardi Andrade returns from long layoff to top Gasan Umalatov

  • 22 days ago

SAO PAULO – Viscardi Andrade and Gasan Umalatov didn’t make great music over three rounds, but Andrade’s investment in the outcome seemed greater, which paid off on the scorecards.Filed under: News, read news >>

When Ronda Rousey was just a bartender, not UFC champion

  • 22 days ago

LOS ANGELES — Ronda Rousey will make between $5 million and $10 million for fighting Holly Holm next weekend, figures as breathtaking as the punches, kicks and takedowns she plans to inflict upon her read news >>

Herschel Walker Still Has Another Fight Left Inside

  • 23 days ago

Herschel Walker would like to make one thing absolutely clear: He is not done fighting. Oh, he has nothing scheduled. Rumors abound that Walker, all 53 ageless years of him, could return in this new read news >>

VIDEO: CM Punk Clowns on Internet Trolls for Using Bad Grammar

  • 26 days ago

If you're going to troll CM Punk on the internet, make sure you use solid grammar or he'll call you on it. read news >>