Mir’s “Best Days Have Occurred,” Says Slightly-Older Barnett

Mir’s “Best Days Have Occurred,” Says Slightly-Older Barnett

Former UFC champion and current 35-year old Josh Barnett told MMAWeekly that Frank Mir is past his prime, but Barnett still doesn’t consider his 34 year-old opponent a bad fighter. Noting that it only takes one fight for an old-timer “to pull it together and come back to their championship best,” Barnett said he wasn’t underestimating Mir. But he also said he considers himself the defending UFC heavyweight champion.

“No one ever took my belt from me, so I don’t know what belt they were swinging around, but that wasn’t the UFC heavyweight title as far as I was concerned,” Barnett said, “and I was off at Pride fighting the top dudes in the world at the time.”

Technically, the UFC took Barnett’s belt from him in March 2002, shortly after he stopped Randy Couture in the second round of their championship fight and then tested positive for banned substances. Barnett spent the next six years fighting in Japan, competing in Pride FC’s well-regarded heavyweight division before returning to the United States to fight for Affliction and Strikeforce.

Barnett’s return to the UFC should therefore delight fans of Japanese MMA and kayfabe alike. His insistence that he thinks of himself as the heavyweight champion hearkens back to the days when Chael Sonnen walked around with his own middleweight belt. So does his winking non-reference to past problems with drug testing. Like Sonnen, Barnett seems willing to play the heel in interviews, calling attention to his flaws even as he explicitly denies them.

He differs from Sonnen in two significant regards, though. The first is his record: Barnett has won nine of his last ten fights, dropping a five-round decision to Daniel Cormier last year but otherwise cutting a swath through non-UFC heavyweights. The second is a matter of opinion, but it may do even more to distinguish him from Sonnen: Barnett is self-deprecating.

When he says that the slightly-younger Mir is too old, it’s hard not to hear Barnett acknowledging his status as an aging veteran. Much of his MMAWeekly interview has to do with the long years he spent exiled from the UFC and the sensation of watching his contemporaries succeed in his absence.

It’s a testament to both his intelligence and his experience as a showman that Barnett can acknowledge those years without breaking character. His personality is a welcome addition to the sometimes colorless UFC heavyweight division. The question of whether his athletic skills remain as sharp will have to wait until Saturday night.

  • agentsmith

    “Barnett has won nine of his last ten fights, dropping a five-round decision to Daniel Cormier last year but otherwise cutting a swath through non-UFC heavyweights.”

    Translation: cutting a swath through scrubs.

  • Voice of Reason

    Who the fuck wrote this article? “Pride’s well regarded heavyweight division?” The same one where fat Russian can crusher, brazilian ‘hit me until I submit you’ zombie, Croatian kickboxer who can’t kickbox, and Brazilian neanderthal brawler fought? Yeah funny how once they come to the UFC they suddenly become shit.

    Same for Barnett.

  • glassjawsh

    ^not sure if trolling or just complete retard….did you even watch pride? or the UFC’s heavyweight division when Pride was around? Pride’s was better by leaps and bounds and thus (when weighed against the era in which it existed) the best stable of heavyweights in the world at the time. prime Fedor/CroCop/BigNog/Werdum/Barnett > Mir/Syvlia/Arlovski/that guy that got murdered by his dad/44 year old Handy

    sooooooo the tea leaves here are leaning towards retard

    although I do agree that unless dan brooks is doing his michael bisping impersonation “sneakers bears!!!”) he should prolly stay off the internet.

  • CAP

    For fucks sake voice of reason that is soobo levels of retard I thought you were better than that. The almighty UFC was like strikeforce to Pride back then. You are either too young to not have seen that era or you weren’t paying as much attention then. Pride was the #1 promotion then and they had the best guys. And yes that fat Russian was a motherfucking terminator at that time.

  • agentsmith

    Anyone picking Barnett for this one?

  • Voice of Reason

    K maybe I went a bit overboard but I maintain that pride fighters have always been overrated. When wanderlei silva came to the UFC he didn’t just suddenly become bad. He started losing because he fought better competition. Same for fedor (i know he didn’t fight in the UFC duh), nog, etc.

    I never said UFC’s heavyweight was better. I actually think it wasn’t. But the ones people like to say were ‘the best’ like Nog, Fedor, Shogun, Wandy, let’s face it they only suck now because they fought better competition (not smaller japanese wrestlers who cant strike, or in the case of nog, people with bad sub defense (and even then he gets beat up first)). What else do you think happened? The octagon is their kryptonite or something? For example, Fedor (i don”t wanna go over the fedor debate again but) who did he beat that was really good? Take a damn good look at his record. I’ll give u crocop…. and nog at a big stretch. Zulu? Hong man choi? Brett Rogers? (who was beating him up good too), Matt Lindland (a middleweight). I can go on….

    I’m saying in the UFC, at least the competition is real. And when u fight real competition, then u see how good u are. And when pride fighters did they a lot (not all) of them got exposed.

  • CAP

    The old Pride stars have faded. That doesn’t mean they weren’t ever any good, everyone ages. The UFC now is like the new breed of MMA athlete. Sure Fedor had a few cans on his resume he fought in Japan where they love a freak show. The landscape of MMA was different then and he did fight the best guys available. I know the top guys you mentioned aren’t shit these days but they were the best at the time. People have a hard time grasping that.

  • kwagnuth

    Either way Josh Barnett can suck my fuckin balls.

  • kwagnuth

    Mirs best days are behind him. Duh. They’re not exactly throwing him to the wolves are they.

  • agentsmith

    @ Voice of Reason:

    The talent pool in the entire sport was pretty shallow back then, just look at who the UFC champs were fighting back in early 2000′s. Sylvia and Arlovski were fighting guys like Paul Buentello, Jeff Monson, and Justin Eilers. Apart from Couture and Liddell, Tito Ortiz was fighting the likes of Ken Shamrock and Elvis Sinosic. Both the UFC and Pride were working with what they had, which wasn’t much by today’s standards.

    The biggest legit criticism of Pride was how their stars like Wand and Fedor were fed almost as many outright cans as real opponents. At least Liddell wasn’t feasting on dudes in wrestling masks.

  • kvelertak

    Mir all day. He’s fought at a higher level for longer.
    I think he’ll wax him in one.

  • Voice of Reason

    Oh I forgot to say, fuck you Glassjawsh. I’m not retarded. Don’t get your panties up in a bunch over your precious Pride gods, asshole. Yes pride had better heavyweights then but they ain’t the gods u think they were/are. Pride got overrated fighters fighting cans or other overrated fighters, which inflates their skills even more (like inflated share prices being inflated even more….then when the fundamentals are tested, they crumble like a house of cards)

    It’s easy to say that when they start losing ‘they got old’ but really they didn’t. The same way when silva lost to weidman people started excusing him about ‘fixed’ fight and stuff, which is BS. Yes they are good fighters, but not as good as people think they are/were in their prime. Shogun fought in the UFC immediately after pride. Same for nog and wandy. Fedor didn’t because he wanted to fight cans. Maybe NOW they’re old, but when they joined in 2007 they weren’t old. They just fought better guys. That’s all I’ll say about it.

    Anyway, I’m going with Barnett via Mir’s glass jaw and fail wrestling defense.

  • CAP

    VoR I am sensing some retardedness. How can guys at the top of the #1 promotion be overrated? Don’t blame them that the talent pool wasn’t as good as it is now. You can’t use revisionist history to shit on these guys. I would guess you weren’t around to see the older generation gain their status. It’s a tiring argument that usually goes nowhere.

    Mir/Barnett is a coin toss if you axe me.

  • Voice of Reason

    Ermmm….. That’s like saying ‘How can a company with share prices so high be overrated?’ It’s about perception. The truth is only revealed once they fight really good fighters. If you beat a lot of bad fighters easily, people think you’re better than you are.

    I’m not blaming them but I am saying they were overrated. By your own words if the talent pool wasn’t as good then (which I agree) then they fought worse competition. And now the talent pool is deeper so they start losing, whereas REAL good fighters remain competitive. E.g. If you play football against 8 year olds you will dominate them all day. Then you play with a Premier league team and they own you. Then your fans will say ‘it’s ok you just got old but you were the best at the time because you dominated for 5 years’, not realizing that you only dominated because you fought lower competition, in many cases hand-selected to lose, with referees helping out as well. What’s so hard to get?

  • glassjawsh

    dude. stop.

    What you’re basically saying is that everyone from the past is over-rated because as sports grow and evolve the athletes are better now…

    oi…people can only be judged by the competition they had available… and (by the way) the competition in Pride WAS THE BEST IN THE WORLD at the time in which it existed.

    you seem like a nice guy, but you’re out of your element.

  • Voice of Reason

    Lol I’m out of my element. You have no idea. No, there are a lot of not overrated people from pride. Hendo, silva, rampage, heath herring (yes he’s not that good but at least people rated him realistically). These people either got better or they were always good enough to compete.

  • CAP

    Oh Rampage is legit but he got DESTROYED by the “overrated” Shogun. Your logic is falling apart.

  • Voice of Reason

    Gosh… you’re just picking random points and using strawman arguments. I said “either got better” (wink wink* Rampage)…..It’s like arguing with 5 year olds now… just ‘nanana you said this!!’

  • CAP

    Like I said these arguments usually go nowhere. I’m bored with this. Some people can’t see past the UFC landscape.

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