Former UFC heavyweight champion and Pancrase openweight champion Josh Barnett has signed with Bellator MMA.
The long-time mixed martial arts veteran signed a contract for the company live on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show earlier this Monday, April 1st afternoon. “I just signed with Bellator on your show,” Barnett said to Helwani. “We will see who we can get first. Either way, there’s a lot of tender morsels over there in Bellator that I can sink my teeth into.” After nearly a three-year layoff from competition, Barnett will soon make his return to the cage. A date for his promotional debut has yet to be determined.
The Washington-born “Warmaster” captured the UFC heavyweight title on March 22nd of 2002, stopping then-champion Randy Couture in the second round to become the youngest-ever champion in the division. However, he would be stripped of the belt after testing positive for banned substances. Following this, he would make the switch to Pancrase and later becoming their heavyweight champion.
From 2004 to 2006, Barnett would compete under the PRIDE Fighting Championships banner. He would climb the ladder to compete in the 2006 PRIDE Heavyweight Grand Prix Finals match against Mirko Cro Cop. Unfortunately, he would fall short suffering a third loss to the Croatian kickboxer inside his time with the company.
Barnett’s more recent tenures took place inside both Strikeforce and the UFC. His only loss in Strikeforce came to current UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier by unanimous decision, where he competed for the organization’s Heavyweight Grand Prix. He would then resign with the UFC in 2013 after over 13 years competing outside of the octagon. Barnett suffered two losses with three wins, his last fight to date being a “Performance of the Night” and “Fight of the Night” winner over Andrei Arlovski in September of 2016.
His current record stands with 35 victories and eight defeats, 21 of those wins coming by submission. Barnett’s incredible grappling experience comes with his impressive second degree black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under Brazilian Rigan Machado. Notable victories on his resume include the likes of Sergei Kharitonov, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Mark Hunt, and Dan Severn.
Stay tuned with MMASucka for all kinds of Bellator news throughout the months to come.
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