Josh Barnett has over 20 years of experience in the combat sports industry and has tried his hand at MMA, pro wrestling and even several martial arts films. He is a former UFC heavyweight champion and has also trained numerous mixed martial artists including Shayna Baszler, Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir of the Four Horsewomen of MMA.
Because of his experience, Barnett would be the perfect person to talk about fellow MMA fighters who have or may potentially be looking to transition to the squared circle. Barnett joined the WINCLY podcast here at Wrestling Inc. today where he discussed if UFC champion Daniel Cormier could transfer his skills from the octagon to the wrestling ring.
"He has all the requirements," said Barnett. "His lengthy amateur wrestling background and his time as an MMA fighter are only a massive benefit towards being successful in pro wrestling. He has a great foundation as a physical combat athlete.
"The man knows what it's like under the hot lights and he knows how to step up and perform. I can't see him doing a bad job."
Over recent years, pro wrestling has shifted more towards skillsets that are authentic and can actually be effective in a fight. Some would even say that wrestling is moving in a more MMA-heavy direction and Barnett doesn't disagree with that notion.
"I do think it's a bit of a look at how pro wrestling is changing in its current paradigm," stated Barnett.
"It's really not a matter of what moves you use, it's how you use them and what you do to put together the foundation of how to have a match."
Barnett is a strong proponent of using moves that are actually effective more so than ones that just look cool. He also says that the various star ratings that wrestling matches get sometimes takes the focus away from what really matters in pro wrestling.
"People conflated the idea of star ratings and things like that.... It really undermines the whole thing that makes wrestling an interesting thing to watch. It undermines the idea that there's a conflict going on and there's some story to be told," said Barnett.
Ronda Rousey and Sonya Deville are among the many who have traded in MMA for pro wrestling. But Barnett says not just anyone can pull off that move and it takes a certain mentality to succeed in pro wrestling.
"It's also arrogant and ignorant to think that just because you're an MMA fighter then you can go out there and do pro wrestling," said Barnett. "There's a lot more to it than that. I've seen some great athletes try to dabble with it and realize that this is not for them."
On the topic of Rousey, it seems as many WWE fans have turned on her in recent weeks and have criticized her mic work. Barnett says part of that is because of who she's often paired with in Becky Lynch.
"Some of it is her adversary because Becky Lynch is nuclear-hot, so [fans] want to rally behind her and hate everything that Ronda says. I think that Ronda gets a lot of undue and undeserved harsh criticism," stated Barnett.
Barnett admitted that he doesn't watch that much wrestling and most of his knowledge of the WWE product comes from the students he's trained.
"From what I've seen of Ronda, I think she's acclimated well and performed admirably," said Barnett.
Barnett has a busy 2019 ahead of him and will be involved in many different projects including his own: Bloodsport. The April event serves as a hybrid between MMA and pro wrestling and Barnett is the main draw on the card.
"I am on the card for Bloodsport and I also have a match in Vegas for QCW against Tom Lawler on March 14. So I definitely have pro wrestling on the horizon," said Barnett. "But for me, pro wrestling is shooting or working. If I'm working in this space, then I'm also looking to get some shoot matches as well and am hoping to get some fights in before the end of the year.
"There's a lot of projects on the horizon. My fight team is doing quite well…not to mention all my amateurs that I'm trying to keep busy. February 22 I'm doing a combat jujitsu tournament which will be on UFC Fight Pass."
Barnett's goal with Bloodsport is to make it a unique experience that leaves fans wanting for more.
"It's a big deal to me to make Bloodsport not just enjoyable and entertaining, I want it to blow people's minds," stated Barnett. "I want people to go, 'Holy Sh-t! You can not get this anywhere else. There is no other place you will get this kind of wrestling from these kinds of athletes. Nothing will compare.'
"That's a lot to live up to and I look forward to the challence. April 4 at the White Eagle Hall we are gonna fully display that."
GCW presents Josh Barnett's Bloodsport goes down April 4th from White Eagles Hall in Jersey City, NJ. It will be streamed via FITE.tv and tickets are available by clicking HERE
Josh's full WINCLY interview can be heard in the embedded audio player below. In it he previews Bloodsport, talks working with GCW, his commentary for Young Bucks matches in NJPW, fan criticism of Jay White and more. You can check out past episodes of the WINCLY here.