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Josh Barnett: Strikeforce Grand Prix Will Be 'Total Earth-Shaker' in MMA

NEW YORK -- Josh Barnett has made it very clear that he doesn't care about titles or fanfare or even the public perception of him, and he's just as adamant that performance should stand on its own merits. In other words, forget about what's come before today, and focus on what stands in front of you now.

As such, he wants fans to put aside existing thoughts or preconceptions about the UFC/Strikeforce rivalry and see the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix for what it is.

Flanked by the seven other tournament fighters at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers, Barnett demanded the MMA world's attention.

"If someone's just going to say, 'If it's not the UFC, then it's not as good,' then you're really sort of s------ on all that we're doing here," Barnett said. "So I just want everybody to look at it from a completely objective standpoint for what it is, for what we bring to the table, and for what we're going to accomplish."

During a Wednesday press conference, Barnett took the reigns as the unofficial fighters' spokesman, expounding on the tourney's purpose, its participants and its ultimate affect on the world of MMA at large.

"Everyone's going to view this differently," he said. "Everyone's going to filter it through their own lens. For sure, this is going to be significant. I think that it's the greatest collection of heavyweights. But it's not just a paper thing. Everyone here has walked the walk before. Most of the guys in here have held titles of some sort."

It's a fair point. Barnett and Andrei Arlovski were both UFC champions, Alistair Overeem a Strikeforce and DREAM champion, Antonio Silva was EliteXC's only heavyweight champ, and Fedor Emelianenko ruled over PRIDE for years.

In his first round fight, scheduled to take place in April, Barnett (26-5) faces Brett Rogers. But asked if he considered himself the favorite to win the tournament, Barnett insisted there was no reason to speculate on that when the tournament would decide a winner in due time.

"Speculation is retarded," he said. "There's no reason for it. Speculation is for you guys, not for us. We don't speculate. Our ranking, our understanding, our place will be shown by action. So for us to say we're the favorite, we're not the favorite, it's all bulls---. It doesn't matter. You're the favorite when you've won, you're the loser when you lost. So you guys pick a favorite, you rank us, you create the lines and put the money down and let us f--- each other up, how about that?"

The April fight could potentially be Barnett's first in the US since a positive drug test in the summer of 2009 ruled him out of an Affliction card. He's won six fights in a row, and there is a debate amongt fans over whether Barnett deserves a spot in the heavyweight top 10 rankings.

Not surprisingly, most heavyweight rankings are dominated by the UFC, but several of the Grand Prix fighters, including Barnett, Overeem, Werdum, Silva and Emelianenko are all in the mix as well. Putting them under the spotlight of a tournament field with the promise of several clashing seems to ensure that some of the attention that eluded them before will reach them now. And that, if nothing else, seems purpose enough for the Grand Prix.

"If this tournament comes through as expected and planned, this is going to be a total earth-shaker in the world of MMA," Barnett said.

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