Though you likely won’t hear Josh Barnett admit to it, “The Baby-Faced Assassin” has long been blamed for the demise of the short-lived Affliction fighting promotion.
The ever-popular clothing brand was forced to cancel what would have been its third event — which would have featured a main event between Barnett and Fedor Emelianenko, with the WAMMA heavyweight title on the line — when Barnett was denied his license by the California State Athletic Commission after testing positive for anabolic steroids.
Shortly thereafter, Affliction ceased its efforts as a fight promotion and company vice president Tom Atencio has maintained since that Barnett was largely responsible for the company’s demise in that field. During a recent Affliction-sponsored video segment where Atencio and MMA legend Randy Couture pick winners in upcoming fights (link), Atencio admitted that, because of his past with Barnett, he “would love” it if Barnett’s upcoming opponent Brett Rogers were to put “The Baby-Faced Assassin” to sleep.
“I’m gonna go with Josh,” Atencio picked. “Personally, I’d love to see, just because of the history — which we all know about — I would love to see Brett knock Josh out. I probably shouldn’t say it, but I’m gonna say it! But at the end of the day, I think Josh is gonna win.”
Couture also chose Barnett to win, though never indicated any desire to see his peer damaged on fight night.
“Brett’s a game fighter, and if Josh gets hit squarely, Brett could end his night,” said “The Natural.” “I’m picking Josh, I think Josh is gonna work his way around Brett and Brett’s size and Brett’s power, but it’s gonna be a fight.”
Barnett and Rogers will meet in the quarterfinals round of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix this Saturday night at Strikeforce: Overeem vs. Werdum, which takes place at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.