Contract talks stalled earlier in the year following Strikeforce’s demise which lead to speculation Barnett was going to sign for Bellator, but it’s now been reported that he has agreed terms with the UFC and will put pen to paper on a new multi-fight deal.
It’s been over 11 years a since Barnett last set foot in the Octagon, having previously left in controversial fashion after defeating Randy Couture at UFC 36 to win the UFC’s heavyweight title only to then have it stripped from him following a positive test for steroids.
Since that time Barnett has enjoyed a successful career outwith the sport’s leading organization including becamong a Pancrase champion, and reaching the finals of Grand-Prix’s in both the PRIDE and Strikeforce organizations.
In total the 35 year-old has compiled an impressive 32-6 career record, yet despite his success a return to the UFC looked unlikely at times, with Dana White appearing to hold a grudge against him for his past indiscretions in the promotion.
That was further compounded when Barnett signed for Affliction in 2008 – a fierce competitor to the UFC at the time – and was then caught using steroids again in a pre-fight drugs test prior to a headlining fight with Fedor Emelianenko in 2009 which effectively sunk that promotion.
Barnett appears to have cleaned up his act in recent years however, passing drugs test during a solid run in the Strikeforce promotion that saw him notch up several wins and he now appears to have finally buried the hatchet with White and now has the opportunity to end his career on a high note.
A well rounded fighter with high-level grappling and a wealth of experience, Barnett will be a welcome addition to the UFC’s heavyweight ranks and should be a competitive force in the upper reaches of the division.