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Scott Coker: It’s time for everybody to move on from focusing on Josh Barnett’s past

By Zach Arnold | January 10, 2011

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Last Wednesday, Scott Coker had a very interesting radio interview with Jack Encarnacao and TJ De Santis that I wanted to focus on here briefly. Rather than rush through the interview, I wanted to listen to it and see if there were any items of note to discuss.

During the interview, Mr. Coker claimed that Strikeforce has the best heavyweights in the world and that the upcoming tournament will prove it. When it came time to talk about Brett Rogers vs. Josh Barnett, he said that ‘one punch changes everything in MMA.’ It was similar in tone to what his tone was before the Fabricio Werdum/Fedor fight, eerily enough. When asked about whether or not Alistair Overeem will put the Strikeforce heavyweight title on the line for each tournament bout he’s involved in, Mr. Coker said that there are issues right now regarding uniformity in round and rules structure for the tournament fights. In other words, title fights are five rounds under the Unified rules and most non-title fights are three rounds. Jordan Breen, a proponent of five-round non-title bouts, has noted in the past that a promoter at any time can petition a commission (such as Nevada’s) to get a five round non-title fight sanctioned. Mr. Coker said that when he presented the idea of all the tournament fights being five rounds, he received push back from various athletic commissions on the matter. The big question now is how to have Alistair Overeem in the tournament if his fights are for the title and are five rounds long while everyone else is fighting in three round fights. Mr. Coker stated that his goal is for the tournament winner to be the Strikeforce Heavyweight champion. He also noted that he would like the Josh Barnett/Brett Rogers fight on the same card alongside the Overeem/Werdum fight.

During the Sherdog radio interview on Wednesday, Mr. Coker made his case in the court of public opinion about Josh Barnett’s participation in the upcoming Heavyweight tournament:

JACK ENCARNACAO: “Scott, without venues locked down or even all the licensing in place for the Barnett and Overeem fights, why announce the tournament already if you’re not 100%? You might be 90% sure that you can get Barnett and Overeem in the cage in March or as part of this tournament, especially Barnett.”

SCOTT COKER: “Well, no, we never said that he’s fighting in March. I’m not sure where you got that, but… you know, Barnett has his issues in California, guys, we all know it. We’ve all been through that dance and he’s got to go back and deal with it some more. But, you know, to me, here’s a guy that has been, uh, out of the cage or, you know, out of the ring for, in North America, for a year and a half and, you know, I feel like he’s paid his time, he’s paid his dues, let the guy make a living. You know and his history before Strikeforce is his past and, you know, we’re going to judge him on what he does now and six weeks ago he went to (the) California (state athletic commission) in Sacramento in the offices and, you know, he tested clean for all, you know, all their battery of tests that they ran on him and he’s not on suspension, so why can’t he fight? And, you know, some commissions still feel like, you know, we want to wait until he gets through the process in California but, you know, there are commissions out there saying, ‘Look, you know, have him come in, let him take the test, and if he’s clean then we’ll let him fight.’ So, you know, we’re going to work with those commissions that are welcoming him and us but Josh, guys, Josh is going to be part of this tournament and we’re going to move on and I think Josh has moved on and I think everybody should move on as well.”

Mr. Barnett will have his hearing next month in California, just after Strikeforce’s January 29th event in San Jose at the HP Pavilion.

When asked about how long Fedor will be under the Strikeforce banner, Mr. Coker noted that he felt confident that Fedor would be fighting for them for at least the next two years. He said that TV ratings and box office numbers prove that any time Fedor fights, ‘it’s a special occasion.’

Mr. Coker addressed criticism from fans and writers who feel that the Heavyweight tournament could fall apart. “There’s a lot of fickle fans out there. But, you know, to me, hey, sit back and enjoy it. The fans don’t have to do anything. Just order Showtime, sit back, and watch some great fights.” He went on to talk about ‘the keyboard warriors’ online. He finished his statement by saying that the tournament is going to be great for the sport.

Topics: Media, MMA, StrikeForce, Zach Arnold | 37 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

37 Responses to “Scott Coker: It’s time for everybody to move on from focusing on Josh Barnett’s past”

  1. Wolverine says:

    I don’t understand why non-title fights in the tournament have to be 5 rounds. In non-tournament situations no one claims that it’s unfair that contenders fight 3-round fights while the champion fights for 5 rounds.

    And it’s heavyweight, how many of those fights are going to distance?

  2. Paradoxx says:

    Look Coker, your entire company is based on focusing on peoples’ pasts.

    Shut up

    • The Gaijin says:


      • Chuck says:

        I think he means that Coker is known for hyping up guys from other orgs that fight in Strikeforce. Like Dan Henderson’s past exploits in PRIDE and UFC, Alistair Overeem’s K-1 exploits, Fedor’s PRIDE exploits, etc.

        • The Gaijin says:

          It’s the fight game – there’s little one can focus on other than fighters past accomplishments. That’s about as ridiculous of a criticism as I’ve ever heard.

  3. I’m fine with the fights being 5 rounds. It at least offers the possibility to separate wheat from the chaff should it come down to it.

    I’m not Coker’s biggest supporter, but seriously, he’s right. Just watch the fights.

  4. DANGEROUS DAN says:

    Surprised, very much so that 45Huddle wasn’t the first to respond this the headlinecontained the name Josh Barnett.
    Let’s hope that this tournament gets what it needs and actually happens. It would be good for the sport because a UFC monopoly is bad for everyone not affliated with UFC including the fans.

    • Ligerbomb27 says:

      LOL I was looking for that, too. I have a long-running theory that Huddle45 is really Dana White posting under an alias.

      Looking forward to this tournament a lot (if it all comes together – hopefully it does). Barnett paid his dues, so just let him fight and let’s all move on. If he tests positive in the future, he should be dealt with at that point, but it’s been long enough.

      It’s strange how vindictive some fans are against a fighter like Barnett, but people like Lesnar, Carwin, etc. who have colorful histories with a number of substances get a free pass.

      • The Gaijin says:

        “Barnett paid his dues, so just let him fight and let’s all move on. If he tests positive in the future, he should be dealt with at that point, but it’s been long enough.”

        Let me say this since I’m sure 45 will get crucified if he says it, but how the hell has Barnett ‘paid his dues’?

        The guy never really paid his dues at all. He got suspended and then headed over to Japan to continue fighting rather than face the music with the commissions here, which there’s nothing wrong with under the rules but is pretty ‘thumb of the nose’. And this whole CSAC thing has been a total mess – he kept saying he was making a case/arguments, etc. and then no-showed or cancelled at least one hearing (IIRC) and his last meeting which was like 18 months after the fact and he showed up with no representative and/or arguements on his case. If anything, he should have had some BS defence like Sherk, Marquardt, Toney or Sonnen, even if it was just to curse out the CSAC officials and his entire licensing issue would be done with…he’s done nothing but avoid “paying his dues”.

        …wow I should proof read…I sound like an illiterate.

  5. Coyote says:

    Its amazing how the 2 biggest mma org’s. are now on the U.S.A.

    If Josh wants to take retribution in his country, this is the time right and last time for him.

  6. 45 Huddle says:

    3 Strikes your out.

    History is the best indicator for the future.

    In any respectable sport a 3 time offender would be banned for life. Coker should be happy he is a dinky dink promotion that nobody outside abroad hardcore fanbase cares about. This is the type of stuff the general media loves to latch onto. Barnett is a proven cheater and has no business putting others fighters careers at risk another time in his career. He should have lost that option when he pissed hot for the 3rd time.

    And some people will try to spin this as a promotional bias. This has NOTHING to do with what organization he is in. This has to do with a CHEATER not getting a 4th chance.

    • notthface says:

      Who are you asking to ban Barnett? If you are saying you don’t want the ACs to license him because of his past history, I won’t argue with you, although I do think that a universal 3-strike rule should be something announced ahead of time and not instituted after the fact. But if you’re saying that the promoters should take it upon themselves to decide if a fighter should be sent into the wilderness, I have to disagree. I cringe at the thought of the promotes having that kind of power with no oversight and no Union or collective bargaining agreement to protect the fighters.

      • 45 Huddle says:

        Actually, a fighters union would be against a 3 strikes and your out policy. Which is what happened in baseball. And the owners didn’t take a strong enough stand. So the government got involved, busted their balls, and nobody had a choice but to put in a 3 strikes and your out policy.

        Every major sport in America has about the same general guidelines for who they ban from their sport. Barnett would be banned from MLB, NFL, NHL, and NBA under their drug policies.

        I’m not asking for some overly strict rules that prohibits promoters. I’m saying that when an athlete messes up badly enough and often enough, there needs to be a line in the sand that they don’t have an option at making a living and hurting other people’s lives anymore in that sport.

        Barnett is a complete cheater. You don’t need some oversight from the fighters for the UFC or Strikeforce to make simple rules like:

        1) Fighter gets busted for banned substance 3 times, he is out of the league for life.

        2) Fighter loades his gloves, he is banned for life.

        3) Fighter strikes opponent intentions before or after the bell in unproved manner, he is banned for life.

        These are common sense things. You don’t need oversight for them.

        It’s funny how little pressure Strikeforce has gotten for given known cheaters a way to make a living at the sport they have cheated so badly. The MMA Media gives them a free pass by allowing literally dangerous fighters to continue to compete when they shouldn’t be allowed to. Josh Barnett, Paul Daley, & Mike Kyle are 3 perfect examples.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          And the UFC isn’t a saint here either. They really need to have a written policy in place. None of this “Dana White decides after the event” garbage. And they should have never let a cheater like Gilbert Yvel back into their organization. Heath Herring should have never been allowed either.

          But the UFC at least does do something. They banned Paul Daley after he threw a sucked punch. They let go of Renato Sobral after he ADMITTED to holding a choke for too long on purpose. They “froze” Chael Sonnen’s contract after his legal issues.

          So at least they are doing something. It absolutely needs to improve. Yet Strikeforce just says: “Hey, did you cheat? No problem!! We don’t have any rules here. Come fight for us!” And that is a special type of pathetic.

        • The Gaijin says:


          I mean they suspended Quinton Jackson after he repeatedly punched an unconscious opponent in the face while a referee was hanging from his back stopping the fight, Dan Henderson who admitted he knew his opponent was KO’d and still struck him (bit of a reach since arguably its up to the ref to stop him, but he beat the ref there with the diving punch – and has a history of doing so), never allowed Nate Marquardt to fight in their organization after he punched Ricardo Almeida in the face after he lost a fight nor Renzo Gracie who soccer-kicked Nate in the face in retaliation, Jake Shields & Nate Diaz after their part in assaulting Jason Miller in the Nashville brawl…

          And they don’t reward those nasty steroid users like Tim Syliva or Sean Sherk by giving them immediate title shots for the belts they vacated due to positive tests!

        • 45 Huddle says:

          1) Did Dan Henderson ever fight in the UFC again?

          2) Sean Sherk went 10.5 months between fights. Hardly a good example. A 9 month to a 1 year suspension is perfectly adequate.

          You are trying to use a lot of PROVOKED examples to counteract my example of a 100% unprovoked act in what Paul Daley did. Huge difference. The Almeida/Marquardt & Mayhem brawls were all provoked and got out of hand.

          What Daley did was more in the realm of what happened on ESPN Boxing where Teddy Atlas screamed that the attacker should be banned for life.

          You tried so hard to muddy the waters, but they are very different examples. Once again…. UNPROVOKED!!

        • notthface says:

          Sure they took action in those cases, but what makes them suspect is that all of those have the appearance of being taken merely for public appearance sake. Phil Baroni tests positive, punches a ref, and barely has an above .500 record and gets to fight in the UFC. Riggs and Diaz get in a fight in a hospital and no repercussions. Chael Sonnen’s contract is suspended when he faces sentencing for a crime but not when he boldly state that the NSAC’s Keith Kizer knew about and gave him permission to use TRT – something that directly affects the sport. Wouldn’t that have been the place to make a stand?

        • 45 Huddle says:

          I agree the UFC should have done more to Sonnen. I said so on this very site on January 3rd.


          I wrote:

          I agree he is a draw, but I really believe the UFC needs to put their own sanctions on fighters who were caught by roids.

          He got what? Something like 6 months? The UFC needs to enact their own rules that say something like this:

          “If a fighter gets a suspension by an AC for steroids, then we will atuomatically enforce. Additionally, the mandatory length of suspension from the UFC will be one year.”

          That guy got off way too easy and the UFC didn’t do anything about it.


          You talk as if I am just defending the UFC here. I think they need to do better as well. They need a written policy. Nothing like Josh Gross is saying which is completely unreasonable (ban after 1 offense). But they need to go above and beyond the AC commissions and have it written in stone.

          The problem is that the UFC is iffy on when it happens. They do it sometimes and not others.

          Strikeforce never does it. In fact, they purposely go after guys the UFC has let go for bad behavior. Which is even worse.

          And that is the problem. The UFC can improve. Strikeforce is downright awful.

        • The Gaijin says:

          1) HAHA – please son. Yes this was the reason he didn’t fight there again.

          2) The UFC is hardly leading by example on cheating when your first fight back is a title shot. Gimme a break.

          3) Other than Renzo Gracie, what provocation? Jason Miller doing the typical fight hype by talking into a microphone against a potential opponent like 95% of other championship fights and getting sucker-punched for it? And not only that but then getting swarmed by 3 professional fighters – yeah seems like a real case of “provocation”! I’m not sure how unconscious, prone opponents were “provoking” an unwarranted attack but ok?

        • 45 Huddle says:

          1) My comment was more of a joke because your example of Henderson was so bad. A fighter can hit his opponent as many times as he wants until the ref pulls him off. Henderson literally did nothing wrong within the rules. Once the ref stopped it, Henderson stopped. So really bad example on your part.

          2) So what should be the rule then? How many fights back before they have a chance at the title? As long as time is served…. And time is long enough, that is all that should be enforced. So do you want a 9 month suspension and a minimum of 2 fights before they get a title shot? That really turns into a 18 month suspension which is far too long. Nice try, but just doesn’t work like that. I am completely for a minimum sentencing requirement no matter what the AC’s deem. But once the suspension is done, it needs to be fully done.

          3) I take it you never saw Almeida/Marquardt in Pancrase. Go look it up on YouTube if it’s still up there. And the Strikeforce brawl happened because of Coker’s own inability to control his organization. First he let too many people in the octagon. Then he allowed a fighter to enter that had no business in doing so. And then that fighter started acting like a child and provoking a fight. Completely different then Daley who just flat out struck a guy for no reason because he is a bad seed. That is what I’m talking about that needs to be banned for life. If there is a fight in the cage after a fight that was the workings of 2 or more people…. Then there should be suspensions…. But still the ability to earn a living at the sport in the future.

        • Alexandre Mogue says:

          #1 on your ban list is acceptable.

          #2 and #3 are not only questionable, but lifetime ban? LOL yeah right. Not even Boxing goes by that ruling.

        • The whole thing about promoters controlling the ring was already knocked down by Fuiyud (or whatever that dudes name is) the last time we had this talk and he discussed the whole “technical area” thing? I don’t think 45 responded to any of it, but it was pretty black and white.

    • Steve4192 says:

      Barnett only has two strikes. The first failure was during an ‘exploratory’ testing period. Major Leauge Baseball never punished the guys who failed during their ‘exploratory’ testing period, why should we expect MMA to do so?

      • 45 Huddle says:

        And MLB took it on the chin from the Federal Government for their drug testing policy, including only testing as an “exploratory” manner.

        Barnett pissed hot 3 times. You can call it what you want, but he pissed hot 3 times.

        That should be enough to be banned for life.

  7. Phil says:

    Barnett is a great fighter. Yes his past has abuses in it, but as far as I’m concerned, if the man has proven himself to be clean and has reformed his ways, he should be allowed to fight. Furthermore, I think he’ll do very well against Rogers in the first round of the tourney, and make things interesting going into the later rounds. I get that people have issues with him, but if he’s a good fighter who performs, and proves he’s clean, there shouldn’t be a problem with it.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      So how many times does a fighter have to break the rules before he doesn’t get another chance?

      What is he pissed hot 5 times? Is it still okay to fight again as long as he pisses clean a month before a fight?

      I just don’t get what you are saying. There has to be a line that if crosses is the final straw. But the way you talk, there is no line.

      So I pose the question…. At what point is enough enough?

  8. mr. roadblock says:

    The Barnett reactions are always funny to me. Because he is a hero/idol to many people who hate the UFC.

    Take for example DangerousDan’s comment referring to why he wants the tournament to be a success and Barnett to be part of it:

    ‘It would be good for the sport because a UFC monopoly is bad for everyone not affiliated with UFC including the fans.’

    Meanwhile Barnett’s actions helped take down Affliction and directly cost fighters booked for that card money. Affliction paid better than SF does.

    I’m sure I’ll get flamed for using facts. Someone will say ‘Affliction was going to fold anyway, not Josh’s fault … yadda yadda.’

    I’d be willing to bet he never ends up fighting Rogers. I just hope we get to see some good fights out of this Tourney. I don’t trust Coker to be able to pull it off. Now he’s saying the 2nd half of round 1 might not happen in March. How in the hell is this thing going to wrap up in 8 months then? There isn’t a fighter in this thing that routinely fights 3 MMA fights per year.

    But I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt and hope that the winners of each fight stay committed to the tourney.

    • Safari_Punch says:

      You mean Barnett’s ALLEGED actions.

      Affliction brass made the decision to cancel the show even though 15,000 fans on Sherdog said they would still order the Affliction Trilogy show with a substitute (rumor was it was Belfort) verses Fedor. Affliction brass didn’t even have the courtesy to notify M-1 or Fedor the event was canceled before they boarded a plane and landed in California.

      But you continue to blame Josh Barnett for mismanagement.

      The fact Affliction folded as an event staging entity and rejoined the UFC THE SAME day, must make one ponder why did they really fold? What was going on behind the scenes? Did the UFC want the LA market for themselves? Do you think this wasn’t in the works for weeks or months?

      But by all means, blame Barnett.

      What is really fishy to me personally is this: Josh Barnett’s last headline fight in the United States before his scheduled fight with Fedor was the fight with Randy Couture where he won the UFC title. We all know what happened there.

      Barnett then has the following fights:

      Josh fights in Vegas in 2006 against Nastula for PRIDE; passes drug test

      Josh fights against Rizzo for Affliciton; passes drug test

      Josh fights against Yvel for Affliction; passes drug test

      Josh scheduled to fight Fedor in MAIN EVENT; fails drug test while applying for re-licensing

      What’s going on? Have a look at an old thread of mine on Sherdog and tell me if the happening with the UFC were on the “level”.

      As for the CSAC, they are consistently being purged of key officials. Do they have their house in order? What is going on there? Are they on the level too?

      Hmm hmm.

      • Dave says:

        You are also apparently banned on Sherdog, which I’m not sure is a bad thing, but hmmm hmmmmmmm.

        There is no doubt that Affliction was poorly managed and fell apart due to such poor management, but what sparked the collapse was Barnett having to cancel. The PPV numbers on the last shows were really, really rough, and losing their headlining fight that they promoted hurt them, bad.

        The headlines were former UFC HW champ vs. PRIDE HW champ, if it then turned into “205lbs fighter who can cut weight vs. Fedor” I’m not sure it would sell as well.

      • Brad Wharton says:

        Well if 15,000 people on Sherdog said it, it must be true!!

        • mr. roadblock says:

          “15,000 fans on Sherdog said they would still order the Affliction Trilogy show with a substitute (rumor was it was Belfort) verses Fedor.”

          The reason I dislike Fedor so much is that he turned that fight down.

          Belfort agreed to the fight. Fedor’s management turned it down. I have that first hand.

        • Dave says:

          You’d have 15,000 people searching for streams.

  9. Manapua says:

    Zach is always trying to shove Blarnett down the readers’ throats.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      Did you miss the fact that Coker commented about Barnett to multiple media outlets including MMA Weekly and Sherdog? It’s kinda hard to ignore it.

      Do you realize that I’ve not stated opinions when I’ve written about Josh in recent times on this site, especially in regards to stories involving drug tests? I’ve played it straight.

      Third, given that Strikeforce has put him in an easier block of their tourney to win and make it to the tournament finals, it’s kind of hard to ignore his existence and the fact that the promotion is going out of their way to promote him, book him, and find friendly commissions for him.

  10. […] He thinks Barnett has paid his dues and deserves a chance to make a living. From Sherdog Radio via Fight Opinion: “Barnett has his issues in California, guys, we all know it. We’ve all been through that […]


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