Even with a fight on the horizon, Josh Barnett apparently is a wanted man.
Former UFC heavyweight champ Junior dos Santos recently told MMAFighting he’d like to meet the winner of Barnett vs. Travis Browne, who fight at this month’s UFC 168. Just prior to putting on one of the best heavyweight fights in history, Antonio Silva said he still holds a grudge against “The Warmaster” and wants to settle it.
Barnett, who returned to the UFC in August after an 11-year hiatus to knock out ex-champ Frank Mir, said he hadn’t heard of the interest. But it hardly got a reaction. Both of the potential opponents, he said, were simply trying to promote their careers.
“I don’t care,” Barnett told MMAjunkie. “I guess [dos Santos] must think he can beat [Browne or I]. He’s not so sure he can beat Cain at this point, but he thinks maybe he can get over on us. Hell if I know. I don’t really care. I don’t call people out – I just fight them.
“[Dos Santos] sees some value in it. Otherwise, he wouldn’t do it.”
Barnett (33-6 MMA, 5-1 UFC) and Browne (15-1-1 MMA, 6-1-1 UFC) fight on the pay-per-view main card of UFC 168, which takes place Dec. 28 at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Prior to a slugfest with Mark Hunt at this past Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 33, which took place in Brisbane, Australia, Silva declared he had “a little bit of anger” in his heart for Barnett, whom he first targeted following his win over Fedor Emelianenko under the now-defunct Strikeforce banner.
Like then, Barnett couldn’t figure out where Silva’s animosity was coming from, but seemed slightly amused at it.
“Man, this guy is really sensitive,” Barnett said. “He started the whole thing to begin with. But hey man, I can’t control how other people feel or what they want to do. If they want to keep giving me free press, I’m OK with that.
“If he holds a spot of hate in his heart for me, then so be it. It doesn’t really matter to me. If he really hates me that bad, he knows it’s not that hard to get into a fight with me, if he really wanted to. He just wants to get paid for it, and I’m not here to make his career, or help it in any way.”
Barnett’s meeting with Browne could determine the next heavyweight title challenger after champ Cain Velasquez returns from an injury layoff to meet No. 1 contender Fabricio Werdum.
Velasqeuz is recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum and could be out most of the year, which might allow the winner a chance to stay busy by taking another fight.
But Barnett said that if he’s named as the next contender, he won’t be letting anyone get in the way of that opportunity.
“If I had a title shot, there’s no way I would sidestep a title shot for these two dudes,” he said. “That would be more than two steps back. That’s an idiotic move. The belt is everything. If you’re not trying to be the champ, then what’s the point of doing it?
“Honestly, all I care about is fighting Travis Browne right now.”
For more on UFC 168, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.