I recently interviewed former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett, who will be doing commentary with Mauro Ranallo for the upcoming NJPW series on AXS TV that will be premiering on Friday, January 16th. The hour-long weekly series will feature matches from NJPW’s Japanese broadcasts and pay-per-view events and will air on Friday nights at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT. During the interview, which will be posted in its entirety here on WrestlingINC.com in early January, Barnett discussed his reaction to CM Punk signing with UFC and admitted that he was “shocked.”

“I had no idea that it was even coming,” Barnett admitted. “He’s going to put eyes on the TV and butts in the seats and there’s no arguing that. MMA is a promotion, it’s not really a sport. It’s a sporting event, I guess. It’s more akin to professional wrestling. If people wanna pay to see you fight, you’re gonna get in the cage.”

Daniel Cormier, who will be challenging UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones for the title this Saturday at UFC 182, rose to fame with his unanimous decision victory over Barnett in a heavyweight bout at Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Cormier in 2012. While Barnett feels that the heavyweight division is the place to be, he feels that light heavyweight is a good fit for Cormier.

“He’s proven it’s [205 lbs.] a good place for him to be,” Barnett said. “He can make the weight and be strong and fast and successful. In my opinion heavyweight is always going to be where it’s at – the biggest boys who draw the most attention. If Cormier can go in there and battle it out with me like that, he can take on anyone in the world.”

Barnett also shared his prediction for the Jones – Cormier bout this Saturday.

“I think Cormier is going to put Jones on his back repeatedly, he’s going to put a short and fat offense on Jones’ face, and that’s not a pun. He’s going to win.”

Make sure to join us this Saturday for our live coverage of UFC 182: Jones vs. Cormier, which will be followed by our live coverage of Wrestle Kingdom 9 from the Tokyo Dome.