Who's Running the Gauntlet?
What Does it Take?
MMA fans are fickle; not only fickle, but outspoken as well. A lot of speculation floats around the web these days about fighters like Josh Barnett
being more interested in a pay check than a fight. Tim Sylvia
and Jeff Monson
, both very elite heavyweights, are constantly faced with accusations by both the press and the fans for being boring or scared to lose. You won’t have to flip many forum rocks over before you turn up comments that border trash-talk about ex-ufc contenders & heavyweight champs.
Something as personal as physical appearance, a fighters style or personality can make or break a bright future. These days steroid allegations can spoil a fighter’s career as long as it lasts. Kevin Randleman
, for all his talent, may never gain his complete fan-base back after passing in that fake urine sample last November. MMA fans hold their fighters to high expectations and, unlike the world of Pro Boxing, the NFL and the NBA, mixed martial artists are very accountable for their actions.
The Baby-Faced Steroid Abuser?
On the 22nd of March, 2002 Josh Barnett, ‘the Baby-Faced Assassin’, defeated Randy Couture
via TKO late in the second round; becoming the youngest UFC heavyweight champion to date and giving Couture his first UFC loss. Barnett was stripped of his title after he allegedly tested positive for EQ also known as Boldenone, an anabolic steroid. The same steroid Phil Baroni
and Stephan Bonnar
have also tested positive for.
His fighting license was temporarily suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Barnett and Matt Hume
, his trainer at AMC Pankration at the time, disputed the results of the NSAC testing, pointing to serious violations of basic protocol in the testing which made it impossible to verify or validate the NSAC's results and irregularities in the timing of the allegations. Additionally on June 11, 2002, testing adhering to established protocols gave a negative result.
Claiming the June test to be definitive in establishing a false positive, Barnett insisted on his innocence as Boldenone can show up in a drug test for up to one and a half years after use. Unfortunately, Barnett was forced to walk away from the UFC and North American MMA after months of waiting with no results and no booked fights.
Barnett would than travel overseas to compete in both the Pancrase and PrideFC fighting promotions. In short time he became the ‘King of Pancrase’ (winner of the open-weight tournament) and fought the likes of Ken Shamrock, Frank Shamrock, and Bas Rutten on the way.
PrideFC - Running the Guantlet
In Japan, Barnett is known, to his fans, as an otaku or a person with obsessive interests, particularly anime and manga. During his career in the now defunct PrideFC he would enter the ring playing the theme from ‘Fist of the North Star’ – a popular anime.
In 2006 Barnett would play this song during his entrances to an amazing seven fights in one year. Winning four of them by submission and losing only two fights; both losses against top tier heavyweights in Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ Filipovic and now UFC Interim Heavyweight champ Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera. The latter being a rematch of a fight that Barnett had won only months earlier.
When PrideFC was purchased by Zuffa LLC/UFC owners Frank and Lorenzo Ferttita early 2007, numerous fighters were left in a state of competition limbo. Barnett was one of these many ill-fated fighters and he quickly fell to mainstream obscurity; although he was and is ranked within the top three heavyweights on many online ranking lists.
Barnett and Female MMA
Finding himself with no fights lined-up Barnett decided to focus heavily on helping his female students to improve and win. His "Angels of Destruction" as he has so affectionately labelled them are some of the most successful women fighters and technically sound in female MMA.
Hitomi Akano, Ginele Marquez and Long-time student Megumi Fujii are not only great female fighters but pound for pound some of the best fighters in the world; Megumi or ‘Mega’ Megumi, as she’s commonly reffered to, being the obvious stand-out of the group.
On the Road to Victory
Early this year Josh Barnett’s fighting career again sparked with the formation ofWorld Victory Road(WVR), a fledgling Japanese MMA promotion that consists of many previously alienated PrideFC ex-employees. In conjunction with the also newly-formed Japan Mixed Martial Arts Federation (JMM), World Victory Road held its first show, ‘Sengoku’, on the fifth of March.
Barnett faced Hidehiko Yoshida, a famous Japanese Judoka and mixed martial artist, in a bout that pitted Barnett’s Catch/Pro Wrestling style against Yoshida’s Judo. During the bout with Yoshida, Barnett reversed a beautiful throw attempt by Yoshida with a belly to back suplex 'en route to gaining victory via leg-lock in the third round.
Barnett had become proficient in catch wrestling and grappling in general under the tutelage of Erik Paulson. Some would say that he is the best heavyweight submission fighter in mixed martial arts today. Only paralleled by his two time opponent Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera.
Just over two months passed and WVR had set up Sengoku II. Josh Barnett would fight again. He faced occasional training partner and friend Jeff ‘The Snowman’ Monson on May 18, 2008 in a fight that saw two world-class journeymen of MMA competing to see who the more technically proficient fighter was.
There was a certain wisdom and control to this fight. A rhythm to the bout that would lead one to believe had Monson or Barnett faced a younger, overly eager opponent, a good knuckle rap on the chin and a ‘buck up fellow’ would have been needed for the younger fighter come fights end. Barnett won a well deserved decision over Monson and the mutual respect was obvious between the two hulking fighters when the judges decision was announced.
The day after the fight I read forum threads dedicated to de-hyping one of the few men on this planet to hold pancrase and ufc gold. Fans questioned Barnett's careful approach to the fight and some even doubted his place among the elite heavyweights in MMA. His past achievements didn't matter, nor did the fact that Monson is no easy challenge for any man on this planet. Somehow, by winning, he had lost a few fans.
I wondered to myself “What does it take?” and hoped that Josh Barnett did not share the same sentiment.
Check in next week for part 2
Original Here: http://www.topgunmma.com/viewArticle...rticleID=10408