Josh Barnett


Josh Barnett began competing in mixed martial arts in 1997, winning six fights in a row before signing with the UFC. Of those six fights, he primarily competed in SuperBrawl, where he won the SuperBrawl 13 Heavyweight Tournament by defeating Bobby Hoffman via unanimous decision.

UFC Career

A graduate of Ballard High School in Seattle, Washington, Barnett became the youngest (UFC) Heavyweight Champion and the youngest UFC champion in history after defeating Randy Couture in early 2002. Later that year, the title was stripped from Barnett after he tested positive for an anabolic steroid. His fighting license was temporarily suspended by the Nevada Athletic Commission after a hearing on July 26, 2002, where he denied ever having used steroids.

Pancrase and PRIDE

After losing his UFC title, Josh Barnett began his overseas career as a professional wrestler in the New Japan Pro Wrestling organization, but he also competed in MMA fights in both PRDIE and Pancrase in Japan. While in Pancrase, he won its open-weight Grand Prix title by defeating Yuki Kondo. Winning this title put him alongside the likes of Ken Shamrock, Frank Shamrock and Bas Rutten as one of the few fighters to be a titleholder in both Pancrase and the UFC.

In his first fight in Pride, at Pride 28 against Croatian Mirko "Crocop" Filipovic, he suffered a simultaneous fracture and dislocated shoulder injury that required surgery and over six months of rehab. His first fight back post-injury was a rematch against Filipović at Pride 30, which he lost by unanimous decision. He came back with a win against Kazuhiro Nakamura at Pride 31.

Barnett later beat Aleksander Emelianenko by a Keylock submission in the first round of the Pride Open Weight Grand Prix at Pride Total Elimination Absolute. He submitted Mark Hunt via Kimura in the second round of the Open Weight Grand Prix at Pride Critical Countdown Absolute. Barnett defeated Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira by split decision in the semi finals of the Open Weight Grand Prix, however he lost the final match of the Pride Final Conflict Absolute to Filipović on September 10, 2006 submitting after an accidental poke to the eye; this was his third consecutive loss to Filipović.

Next, Barnett fought the Polish Judo gold medalist Pawel Nastula at Pride 32, the organization's first show in the USA. To fight again in Nevada, the Nevada State Athletic Commission required that Barnett pass a mandatory drug test. In a surprisingly competitive match, Nastula controlled the first round and most of the second. Barnett reversed Nastula from the bottom and was able to secure a toe-hold submission, which earned him the victory. At a post fight press conference, Barnett complimented Nastula on his performance. Nastula, however, subsequently tested positive for steroids. Barnett then lost a rematch by unanimous decision to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at Pride Shockwave 2006.

World Victory Road: Sengoku

After the bout against Nogueira and the acquisition of Pride by the UFC, Barnett did not participate MMA events in 2007, except one Pancrase match against Hikaru Sato, which was held under catch wrestling rules on Dec. 22. Barnett did not follow many other Pride veterans to the UFC because he desired to join an organization that also included the top heavyweight fighter in the world, Fedor Emelianenko. In 2008, Barnett joined the newly organized MMA promotion, Sengoku, and fought in consecutive main events at Sengoku 1 and Sengoku 2, defeating Hidehiko Yoshida by submission in the third round and Jeff Monson by unanimous decision, respectively.

Affliction Entertainment

Since his contract with World Victory Road is not exclusive, Barnett can join other MMA events. Barnett participated in the inaugural MMA event held by Affliction Entertainment, in July 2008. Seven years after his only knockout loss to Pedro Rizzo, he avenged that loss at Affliction: Banned with a knockout of his own in the second round.

In January 2009, Barnett fought Pride veteran Gilbert Yvel at Affliction: Day of Reckoning. Barnett defeated Yvel by a submission resulting from strikes in the third round. His next match-up, scheduled on August 1, 2009 against #1 Heavyweight and WAMMA Heavyweight Champion Fedor Emelianenko at Affliction's 3rd event Affliction: Trilogy, was officially pulled 10 days before the fight after testing positive for anabolic steroids by the California State Athletic Commission. He posted a statement on his myspace page that stated:

Many of you are wondering whats happening. What I can say is that when applying for my license, the CSAC asked for me to submit a urine sample for testing prior to granting my license as they do with everyone, I believe. It was not a random test. I had no reason to believe there would be any issues and went in to submit my sample at the earliest possible opportunity on June 25th. I never once thought there would be a problem.
My representatives and I are working to gather as much info as possible and handle this situation as best as we can. I am embarrassed and want for nothing more than to resolve this issue and receive a license from the State of California as I have done many times already and for other states as well.
I am very thankful for all the great family, friends and fans that still support me.
Sincerely, Josh

In the end, the entire event was cancelled. According to Tom Atencio, they just "didn't have enough time to promote a new fight to our standards.

Steroid Controversy

Released to the media was a statement from Barnett's manager, Shannon Hooper of Excel Sports Management, which addressed the situation with Affliction and the CSAC.

Here is the statement in its entirety:

"The media has reported that Mixed Martial Arts Heavyweight fighter Josh Barnett would not be eligible to fight Fedor Emelianenko at Affliction Trilogy as he was denied his California license due to an alleged positive test for 2a-methyl-5a-androstan-3a-ol-17-one, which is purportedly a metabolite of a banned substance. Mr. Barnett was shocked at these allegations and was extremely disappointed to learn that Affliction had made the hasty decision to cancel the August 1st event in its entirety. Mr. Barnett vehemently denies intentionally ingesting any banned substances in preparation for the August 1st fight and he is looking forward to presenting his case to the California State Athletic Commission.
"In the meantime, Mr. Barnett has yet to learn of the results of the B sample testing and he has not received any of the documentation that provides further details of the alleged positive sample despite numerous requests. In fact, the documentation that Mr. Barnett has received raises serious questions about the integrity of the sample and the validity of the results themselves.
"At this time Mr. Barnett would like to thank his fans and colleagues for their ongoing support and faith in him. He intends to vigorously defend himself against these allegations and hopes for a swift resolution to this matter so he can get back to what he does best -- fighting!
"I would like to further add that Josh is as disappointed as all of his fans and supporters that he will not be fighting on August 1st. He also empathizes with all of the other fighters that were scheduled to appear on the card and shares their frustration and shock at the cancellation of the entire event."


Due to the positive drug tests, Barnett made a re-licensure appeal to the California State Athletic Commission(CSAC). The CSAC has postponed Barnett's appeal three times. The first two postponements happened because Barnett's law firm required additional information from the laboratory that conducted Barnett's tests. Michael J. DiMaggio, Barnett's attorney, was unable to attend the hearing due to travel problems, causing the third extension.

After the debacle that was the end of Affliction, former EliteXC Heavyweight Champion Antonio Silva stated that he wanted to fight Barnett. In early September 2009, a report began to circulate that a Sengoku official told Silva that if he was to beat Jim York at Sengoku X, then he would most likely fight Josh Barnett for the promotions Heavyweight title at the next event. The bout never materialized, as Silva's next bout took place under the Strikeforce banner.

It was learned in late-February of 2010 that Josh Barnett's appeal to the California State Athletic Commission has been delayed for the fourth time and he won't be heard until the commission's next meeting on April 20, 2010. The commission delayed the appeal when Barnett, 32, failed to appear at an official commission meeting today in Los Angeles. According to the commission, he was told that he needed to be there, but Barnett said he didn't know of this fact, as he was in Japan, fighting in a pro-wrestling contest.

When asked if and when he would return to mixed martial arts, Barnett had this to say:

"If they want me to fight, all they have to do is step up to the plate, throw me an opponent, and don't put something in front of me that's a slap in my face or ridiculous," Barnett said.

It was learned that Sengoku offered Barnett as an opponent for Antonio Silva, with the promotion's Heavyweight title most likely on the table, but Silva turned the fight down, stating that he wanted to focus on his career with Strikeforce.

It was then learned on March 1, 2010 that Barnett had signed with DREAM, though his next opponent was not announced. It was then announced early March that Barnett would make his debut on the March 22, 2010 DREAM 13 card. A few days after the announcement, it was learned that his opponent would be the American-Samoan K-1 star Siala Siliga. Barnett had not competed in mixed martial arts since the beginning of 2009, but ring rust did not seem to be much of a factor as he submitted his opponent with a Kimura in the first round. It should be noted that Barnett did get clipped by the K-1 star at the beginning of the round, until Barnett closed the gap between the two, and that Barnett also delivered a brutal kick to the groin that earned him a yellow card and saw his opponent in pain for quite some time before returning to fight.

Other Features

Barnett has also appeared in the Xbox 360 game Beautiful Katamari as one of the people that can be rolled up. He appears as the rare person "Wrestler" in his signature trunks and Pride FC gloves.

He used to teach catch wrestling at Erik Paulson's CSW Training Center in Fullerton, California. He is the primary trainer and manager of female fighter Megumi Fujii and listed on the Abe Ani Combat Club's website as a team wrestling coach and friend.

Championships and Accomplishments

Mixed Martial Arts

  • Won SuperBrawl 13 Heavyweight Championship
  • UFC Heavyweight Champion (March 22, 2002 - July 30, 2002)
  • Pancrase Open-weight champion (since August 31, 2003)
Retrieved from ""

Magazines, DVDs, Books and Movies

 | Featured on the Cover of Magazine  | Fighters Only (UK) | 8/2006 |  Magazine Publication  | 

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