I think the seas are about to boil. Cats and dogs might be living together. You know, mass hysteria. If you can believe it, and I'm not sure I can, Josh Barnett is pledging to work with Dana White. Sherdog has the scoop:
"If he hates me, he hates me; but if he sees the value in what I bring to the table as a fighter I think that will speak for itself," he said. "But you know what? I don’t hate Dana and I do business, and I’ll go out there and do the absolute best that I can do and if he happens to be my employer … literally, if Dana White has an office that I have to write into every day, because that’s the person I report to for my business, well that’s what I’ll do."
This is an amazing sea change from the notoriously recalcitrant Barnett and it doesn’t stop there. Perhaps reflecting on the uncertain nature of MMA, especially so in recent years, he made a point to commend the UFC for providing a stable platform for the sport to grow upon in North America. He even went as far as to state he may have erred in his handling of his divorce from the company.
"There is a part of me that absolutely wishes that things between myself and the UFC had worked out differently," stated Barnett. "I was 23, 24-years-old at the time and I took advice from where I took it and I tried to do what I thought was the best thing at the time, but this guy that is sitting here talking to you now would tell that kid [that] he was a moron.
"But even still, I got to see and experience a lot of amazing things in my life even because of that. I could sit back and cry about it and really think what a horrible way this turned out, but my life has been really awesome. I’ve done a lot of awesome things and I’ve been a part of amazing moments of time and got to fight in amazing places and see amazing things and fight amazing fighters and I would never trade that in. The thing is, every step you take is forever. I’m going to do what I’ve got to do and I’ll try to do the best I can to avoid mistakes of the past and use those experiences to be better at everything I try to do in life."
I view the aboutface as a the ultimate reality his leveraging power is now close to nill and he's still capable of competing at a high-level. Out of Strikeforce or the UFC and Barnett has nowhere to go.
But for those who have already fought in the UFC, the buyout raises concerns about the bargaining power of those who've left the big show for other opportunities. Dan Henderson did so more than a year ago amid much fanfare to sign a lucrative contract with Strikeforce. After an unsuccessful bid for the promotion's middleweight belt, he won the light-heavyweight title earlier this month by knocking out Rafael Cavalcante at "Strikeforce: Feijao vs. Henderson." He has one fight left on his current contract and expected to begin negotiations for a new one when news of the sale broke.
"I don't know if it's the greatest thing to have everything under one roof again like it was when they took over PRIDE," Henderson said. "It's just a concern. Hopefully things work out right. Obviously, I'm concerned for myself and future contracts, and also about other fighters, as well. It's tough for these guys to get paid well, especially if there's no competition."
The UFC owns the fighters now. I have no concept of how they are going to be able to negotiate with no real knowledge of what rival athletes make and with nowhere else to go. The most curious move will be to see how this affects payment of fighters going forward. The UFC can't go so low as to not make fighting attractive, but they can go below what fighters would make in a more competitive bidding market. Very uncertain times to say the least.