UFC’s #6 ranked “The Warmaster” Josh Barnett (33-7) will fight in the Saitama Super Arena in Japan in the main event of UFC Fight Night 75 and Japan is exactly where he believes Fedor belongs right now. He thinks Fedor will comeback in Japan then possibly make his way to the UFC.
“I haven’t done any press about it, but that’s what I’ve been saying since the minute he said he was coming out of retirement, that he was not going to go to the UFC,” sais Barnett to Ariel Helwani on Monday’s The MMA Hour, as transcribed by Luke Thomas for MMA Fighting. “In fact, I bet Juliana Pena that he wasn’t going to go to the UFC to begin with, that he was going to go to Japan. So, she owes me $20, I believe.
“I’ve been telling everyone that if he’s coming back, there’s going to be a big Japanese show attached to it. It’s all going to line up for him there first. And if he decides to go to the UFC or do something else, I’m sure that he will. That option will exist, but his draw, his value in Japan is monumental. There’s no way he’s going to pass this up.”
“I just think that the draw to be in Japan is that much stronger, to begin with. The amount, the way he’s going to get paid, how he’s going to get treated. I suppose the UFC technically could rival that or exceed that, but it’s unlikely. It would be them stepping out of bounds maybe beyond what they do for anybody else. They probably do it for Ronda and Conor, who knows? But it’s just too easy to do so.”
“Him going over there and doing a fight doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t end up in the UFC. I wouldn’t imagine he’s going to be signing some sort of long-term fixed contract. He’ll probably just go over there, do his match and then go to the next location or maybe call it quits. Maybe say that was good enough.
“As far as his drive to want to continue to compete and try to add to his legacy, I really couldn’t say. I think overall he’s pretty satisfied with what he’s done as a fighter. He has a right to be so. Obviously he still has some competitive juices flowing otherwise I don’t think he’d take that fight.”
The other question of course is PRIDE Never Die? PRIDE died when ties with organized crime became public, and the television networks withdrew support. Sakakibara was there then, can he put all the pieces back together again?
“Today is not yesterday,” said Barnett. “What used to work, I don’t know if it will again. The big thing that Sakakibara has going for him besides experience is that he has relationships prior with the paid television stations and that is a massive component to being able to put your product in to try and become successful in Japan. You have to be on terrestrial Japanese TV and a good time slot and he has the potential to do that. But does he carry with him a stigma of a fallout of PRIDE before with some of the more scandalous aspects, I don’t know entirely and I’m not really paying that close attention to what’s going on behind the scenes, but I hear things and I’ve been hearing about this show coming around for the better part of a year.
“I think there’s a possibility [success] will happen, but I don’t know, maybe the Japanese fans’ tastes have changed to such a degree he’s out of date.”