Josh Barnett Eyes Strikeforce Debut in 2010 Against 'Whoever's Willing to Do It'

With the ink on his Strikeforce contract barely dry, former Pride and UFC heavyweight standout Josh Barnett made his career intentions very clear on Thursday's edition of "The MMA Hour."

"My goal is to be the absolute best in the world and to beat everybody who walks this earth," Barnett told MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani. "And you know what? There's a lot of people out there."

Barnett said he signed a contract with Strikeforce that is "not perfect," but good enough to get him back in front of American audiences for the first time since a failed drug test torpedoed his hopes of getting licensed to fight Fedor Emelianenko in an Affliction event back in July of 2009.

While Barnett said he doesn't yet have an opponent or a date planned for his Strikeforce debut, he expects to have his first fight in the organization "before the end of the year."

Barnett told Helwani that he did not negotiate at all with the UFC during his post-Affliction free agency and was instead content to hammer out a deal with Strikeforce.

"They stepped up to the plate and I dealt with them as such. That's really what it comes down to. The UFC, I think they're not really in a spot where they need to acquire anybody. It's probably better for them to just take a newbie and make him look great than to actually have to deal with great fighters."
If you take our top four or five [heavyweights] against the top four or five in the UFC, hell, we have more wins than they have fights.
-- Josh Barnett

As far as the relative merits of each organization's roster, Barnett made a case for Strikeforce's heavyweight class as one that exceeds the UFC's in both talent and experience.

"I'd say it's a pretty super, incredible division, honestly. If you take our top four or five [heavyweights] against the top four or five in the UFC, hell, we have more wins than they even have fights."

Barnett, who insisted that Emelianenko is still the world's top heavyweight even after his submission loss to Fabricio Werdum in June, declined to name any potential opponents he'd like to face in Strikeforce, saying instead that he'll set his sights on "[w]hoever's willing to do it."

"If I focus on one person, the idea is that, oh, now you've attained this goal and beaten one person. One person. Well, what about the rest of them? Now how are you going to feel about fighting them? What's the motiviation there? So it goes beyond that," Barnett said.

The next action "The Baby-Faced Assassin" sees will be in a Japanese pro wrestling ring on September 25, when he expects to meet former UFC heavyweight champ and pro wrestling novice Tim Sylvia.

Barnett said he hasn't worked with Sylvia at all on his pro wrestling technique and doesn't know if "The Maine-iac" has worked on it on his own, adding that it should be "real interesting to see how this turns out."

The only thing he seems to know for sure about what will happen, as he told special guest Phil Baroni, is that Sylvia is in for at least one big slam.

"Oh, I'm going to slam the living crap out of him," Barnett said. "Are you kidding me? He's going for a ride."
(Ed. note: Watch Thursday's episode of The MMA Hour below.)

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