I spoke to former UFC Champion Josh Barnett recently about his new film Never Back Down: No Surrender, NJPW, Fedor Emelianenko, rumors of a UFC sale and much more. You can check out part one of our interview at this link, and part two below.
Do you have a future with Metamoris?
"That really depends on the company itself. They've been in some very rocky waters, and I'd like to see things get mellowed out there, smooth sailing, to keep the nautical theme. I'd like to defend the Heavyweight crown. Having a professional grappling outlet is great for other submission wrestlers out there beyond Abu Dhabi, which happens every two years. EBI – that's cool. Everybody probably doesn't love everything about EBI, then there's Polaris. Everybody has their slant on it, which is understandable. At the beginning of all these things, it comes from the mind of somebody and they have the idea of how they want it to be, but Metamoris was the first real big one, and arguably possibly the one to really inspire these people to run successful submission tournaments. I think it was the best looking, best put together products. When they had their live shows, those things sold out immediately. $450 tickets just snatched up like nobody's business. I wouldn't say that the format of Metamoris is the best per se, but it's better to have something that you need to make tweaks to than building from the ground up."
There have also been rumors of a possible UFC sale. What do you make of that?
"I always remember the fact that all businesses are for sale if you bring them the right number. It's always suprising to hear about at first, but it's not that far out of the realm of reality. I've read that Lorenzo (Fertitta) is selling a chunk of his piece of the UFC, I've read the whole company is for sale, and everything in between. As long as their checks cash to me, I'm okay with things, I guess. A sale of a company alone doesn't equate to any negative consequences to me or the other fighters as talent. It would take a lot more than just that. It would depend a lot on what happened internally, where reigns of power would be transferred more abroad. If there was a new ownership, what would their intent be with the product, and where do you want to go with it? Hey man, being sold is one thing, but it means there's a lot more questions to ask."
If they're able to sell to a Chinese company and break into PPV or something in China, that could be big.
"Does China even have PPV? I'm not all that familiar."
I'm not sure. Shane McMahon tried to launch a Netflix-type service there and it didn't do so well.
"It's not easy to do business in China. Beyond cultural difficulties beyond the way they do business and the way America does business, or Western European, everybody does business in a different way, and not being familiar with that business environment is a hurdle. The way business is conducted on a governmental and legal aspect is completely different in China. The idea for us to have Facebook or Twitter as 'oh, well it's the internet, anyone can put up whatever they want and be whatever they want.' It doesn't work like that in China. There are much more govermental restrictions on a lot of things. The idea of a PPV over there, I'd be a little surprised. They have their own Twitter, their own variations of things. If the Chinese bought it, hell, maybe they'd bring dim sum after weigh-ins. I would be so happy."
We saw a bit of an upset recently with Stipe Miocic beating Fabricio Werdum. He's facing Alistair Overeem later this year in Cleveland. Do you have a favorite in that fight?
" Between Stipe and Overeem, Stipe's got some good hard hands and a good wrestling game. If that's what initiates the pressure on Alistair, I could see Alistair paying the price for it. But he's a big, well-rounded guy. Kicks to knees, fighting from both stances – he could really hurt Stipe in these exchanges. He's taller as well, I believe. Stipe had trouble with Stefan Struve. Distance, reach could be an issue maybe, but almost everybody has their struggles in the ring at one time or another. Technically (Miocic over Werdum) was an upset. I felt it was much more even than people were giving it. What's more surprising was how the fight was finish. Weird enough, Stipe just back pedaled and punched him, back pedaled and punched him again. Werdum sprinted right into a fist."
Really reminiscent of the way Miocic KO'd Phillip De Fries years ago.
"Well, you know, if a big dude's running at you, Stipe's not just going to stand there! And you don't want to get tied up with him. Stipe wanted to keep distance, box more and feel out that striking exchange. Here comes this big ol' son of a b---h, well, I'm going to get out of the way. Well he's right in front of me, punch! The look on Stipe's face is like 'oh s--t, here he comes!' PUNCH! Well of course, punch. Fight's over. That was nice."
He seemed shocked that he won!
"Maybe! Maybe not shocked that he won, but shocked that this mofo is flying at me and I punched him, he's still flying at me, punched him again, it's over!"
The man who claims he baited Fedor into his first loss at that.
"He didn't bait anything. He got flung around, got hooked in the head, and he wasn't going to stand anymore. He didn't bait s--t! He happened to work against Fedor's mistakes in training and patterns. Fedor would have traditionally shucked the triangle off. It's what he did against Noguiera, he just throws it by. Werdum has longer legs, and it's going to be more difficult. You see that Fedor swings on him, tries to close the distance, clubbing him around the head. Werdum is all the way on his back, no way he's standing up. Fedor dives in as he's done his entire career. What happened the first time? Fedor shucked the triangle off his head, throws it by. Fedor dives in again, but couldn't clear, couldn't get it free. He's done it before. I'd actually said that if Fedor trained the way he was in the past – I don't think he was as focused and trained the way that gave him such a win streak going into that fight with Werdum. We were not seeing a guy operating at his best. It's only his own fault, you can't make excuses for that. Even at your best, it's a risky endeavor to just think you're going to shuck a guy's triangle off your head. There was no baiting, that was f--king bulls--t. He took advantage of an opening Fedor gave him."
What do you make of Fedor not coming to the UFC?
"I don't know. I don't think they ever said the money was that bad, I think it was the terms of the contract, or whatever their sticking points were, that is a factor that can weigh heavily on signing a contract. Why it got to that point is speculation. While it's fun to speculate, I couldn't tell you for sure is Fedor and his management also had a premium value assigned to Fedor. Maybe they were looking for something in the end that UFC was not willing to pay out at the premium Fedor and his management warranted. That has to play some role in it. Fedor as far as I know isn't retired and is still willing to go out there and fight, so there's a possibility we could still see him in the UFC. I don't think so. I think some of the allure of Japan is too much to pass up."
Anything else you want to leave the fans with?
"Always stay in touch with me on Twitter @JoshLBarnett. On Instagram where I post funny memes and cat pictures like everyone else. I have a Facebook fan page that I run that I put more than 140 characters into at Facebook.com/JoshBarnettOfficial. Check out Never Back Down: No Surrender on June 7 and let me and Mike know what you think about it. We're excited to bring it to you guys. We had a great time filming it."