Former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett is set to return the United States for the first time since his failed drug test that caused the cancellation of “Affliction: Trilogy” and the collapse of the promotion in the summer of 2009.
According to Strikeforce officials, the top heavyweight has signed on with the promotion, adding to the competition in the heavyweight division.
Since his loss to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at “Pride Shockwave 2006”, Barnett has gone a perfect 6-0, rounding out his professional record at 26-5. Five of those six victories came via stoppage, including a technical knockout victory over Geronimo dos Santos and a knockout over Pedro Rizzo.
Barnett joins a list of heavyweights including Fedor Emelianenko, Antonio Silva, Fabricio Werdum, and Andrei Arlovski as fighters gunning for champion Alistair Overeem. The signing also brings up the possibility of Emelianenko and Barnett facing off after the initial fight fell through due to Barnett’s continued abuse of banned substances.
“Strikeforce is the home of the best heavyweight division in the world and I am proud to be able to call it my home now,” Barnett says. “I’m looking forward to competing amongst the greatest fighters in the world and fighting my way to another world title.”
The date of Barnett’s debut is yet to be decided, as is his first opponent in the heavyweight division. In all likelihood, Barnett will be faced off against one of the division’s contenders.