For the past couple of weeks, many in the mixed martial arts industry were convinced the legendary Fedor Emelianenko would sign with the UFC.
Current top-10 UFC heavyweight Josh Barnett wasn’t one of them. He told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour Monday:
“It’s what I’ve been saying since the minute [Emelianenko] said he was coming out of retirement — that he was not going to go to the UFC. In fact, I bet Julianna Pena that he wasn’t going to go to the UFC to begin with, and that he was going to go to Japan, so she owes me 20 bucks.
“His draw, his value in Japan is monumental. There’s no way he’s going to pass this up.”
Many on social media began questioning Emelianenko’s decision to rejoin forces with his former PRIDE boss, who promoted the Russian heavyweight for a majority of his rise to the top. They felt he’d spurned himself an opportunity to prove himself on the sport’s biggest stage against the current best crop of heavyweight fighters.
Again, Barnett isn’t one of them.
“I think, overall, he’s pretty satisfied with what he’s done as a fighter, and he has a right to be so,” he said. “Obviously he still has some competitive juices flowing, otherwise I don’t think he’d take that fight.”