Former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett has inked a multi-fight contract with Strikeforce. The promotion announced the signing on Monday.
Picking up Barnett is the biggest free agency move for the company since bringing on former Pride and UFC contender Dan Henderson with a multi-fight contract in 2009, and adds another quality heavyweight to their growing division.
"Strikeforce is the home of the best heavyweight division in the world and I’m proud to be able to call it my home now,” said Barnett.
Undefeated in his last six professional fights, Barnett last competed while under the Impact FC label in Australia, picking up a win over Geronimo dos Santos.
The Seattle, Wash., native has competed in several organizations over the years, including a brief stint as heavyweight champion in the UFC. He holds wins over notable fighters such as Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Randy Couture, and Aleksander Emelianenko.
Barnett was set to face Fedor Emelianenko in late 2009, but a pre-fight drug test administered from the California State Athletic Commission allegedly came back positive for performance enhancing drugs, causing the commission to deny his licensure. He was removed from the Affliction MMA card, which was eventually canceled altogether and the company folded.
He has since went through numerous delays in his appeal to re-gain licensure in California, the latest due to his being unaware that he was expected to attend the appeal hearing in person.
The licensing flap in California was the second time in Barnett’s career that he suffered repercussions for a positive drug test result. His UFC heavyweight title was stripped by the promotion due to testing positive for anabolic agents, and the Nevada State Athletic Commission suspended his license for six months.
Barnett has steadfastly denied “intentionally ingesting any banned substances.”
Currently signed with Dream in Japan as well, Barnett joins a burgeoning heavyweight division in Strikeforce that also includes heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem, Fabricio Werdum, and Fedor Emelianenko, among others.
Strikeforce did not announce a debut date for Barnett, but is reportedly putting together a major event for December. Barnett will likely make his promotional debut by the end of 2010.
He's tainted goods, but he'd still beat most of the UFC's heavyweights.