Barnett and the wrong kind of hype

September, 21, 2010
9/21/10
10:06
AM ET
Rossen By Jake Rossen
ESPN.com
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It takes tunnel vision to fail three drug tests in your career and still spit fire, but Josh Barnett -- trained in the ways of professional wrestling -- is no quitter.

After signing with Strikeforce last week, the former UFC heavyweight champion told MMAWeekly.com he looks forward to a broadcast slot on CBS because, "when I dislocate and tear somebody's head completely off their shoulders and spew blood all over the ring and then drink it, I want the world to see it. I'd love to fight on CBS [and] punch somebody so hard that their eyeballs pop out of their head."

Despite Barnett painting a scene worthy of a Frank Frazetta piece, his reality hasn't been so colorful. Barnett had two nothing fights in 2010 and one protracted battle with Gilbert Yvel in 2009, a fight in which he managed to achieve mount and still not finish off one of the sport's least proficient ground fighters. And there was the infamous third pop for banned substances, which collapsed a fight with Fedor Emelianenko last summer.

I'm past the point of considering MMA an endangered animal that needs to be bottle-fed. It's a mainstream sport that's not going anywhere. Before Barnett lapses into another faux-psychotic rant, he might pause to consider that there are still several places in the world -- New York and several countries outside the U.S. -- that relish his words as a means to keeping his activity beyond their borders. The sport has grown up, but it doesn't matter much if its athletes haven't.

Jake Rossen is a contributor to ESPN.com. His byline has appeared in the New York Times, Wired.com, and numerous other outlets. He began covering mixed martial arts in 1998.

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