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Josh Barnett on Ben Askren Twitter beef: 'Why antagonize somebody for no reason?'

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Free agent Ben Askren caught the attention of the Twitterverse on Wednesday with his unprovoked attack on former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett. The undefeated Bellator welterweight champ questioned Barnett's checkered drug-test history, which led to a pointed response from Barnett.

At Thursday's UFC 164 press conference in Milwaukee, Barnett, who meets fellow former champ Frank Mir in Saturday's co-main event, was asked about Wednesday's outburst.

For his part, Barnett questioned why someone who doesn't know him would call him out from out of nowhere.

"Why antagonize somebody for no reason?" Barnett asked. "Why try to garner attention by doing something negative? Why not do something positive on your own merits, instead of somebody else, whether it's to try to antagonize them or draw their ire, or even to have them help you out. Do it on your own, Do it for your own positive reasons to make your own star shine bright instead of trying to piggyback on someone else."

That said, when Barnett was prompted, he felt the need to defend himself.

"I just took it immediately like, well you're messing with me, that's stupid, why would you do that when I don't know you?" Barnett said. "Well, F you, then. I don't have anything more to say to you, clearly you have a problem. You took it to two, I'm going to take it to 100. that's it."

The scene was a bit uncomfortable for the man sitting next to Barnett at the podium, Anthony Pettis. Pettis, who meets Ben Henderson for the lightweight title in the main event, is a teammate of Askren at Roufusport in Milwaukee.

A few minutes after Barnett's response, Pettis was asked his take on Askren.

"Ben's one of them guys that doesn't get the respect he deserves in the sport," Pettis said. "He's an amazing athlete. If you see him, you wouldn't think much from him, but if you train with him, totally different story."