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Dave Meltzer: Scott Coker should kick out Josh Barnett of Strikeforce tournament

By Zach Arnold | January 13, 2011

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There’s a lot of new layers being added to the Josh Barnett situation with Strikeforce. He’s booked in their upcoming Heavyweight tournament on the ‘easier’ side of the bracket and should he perform as expected, he’ll make it to the finals and have a legitimate shot of winning the promotion’s Heavyweight tournament and becoming champion. In other words, he is someone who Scott Coker views as a guy who he can build his company around as the face of the promotion.

During an in-person interview with Eddie Goldman in New York on Monday, Mr. Coker strongly defended Josh Barnett’s tournament participation and said that Strikeforce would handle the drug testing regarding Josh’s fights. Eddie compared the commission-shopping situation with that of one Antonio Margarito.

SCOTT COKER: “Yeah, here’s my position and the company’s position on this and, uh, this is something that we thought long and hard about with Josh and, you know, him going through the California State commission hearings and he’s got unfinished business with them, right? But that’s between Josh and the commission. My job is we are a fight company that just picked up his contract and, uh, we sent him to California to get tested six weeks ago. Tested clean, right? So, he’s tested clean. I feel good about that and he’s been out of the fight business for maybe… 18 months here in (North America).

“So what I’m saying is he’s, how much has this guy already suffered and lost out? He’s lost out on hundreds of thousands of dollars because of, you know, situations in his past. So, you know, to me we as a company are going to judge him from what he does for us. Now, in saying that, we’re going to test him before and after every fight and, you know, I believe that he’s already moved on from that part of his past.”

EDDIE GOLDMAN: “Meaning that the commissions or Strikeforce?”

SCOTT COKER: “Strikeforce. So, if Josh tests positive again and then, you know, then there’s going to be an issue, right? But I want to judge him on his future and his present with the company and not so much his past because, you know what? To tell you the truth, like the situation in Vegas, I really don’t even know what happened with that. I mean, you probably know more than me. But, that was when he wasn’t working with Strikeforce, wasn’t fighting for Strikeforce, and I’ve reached out to about six commission states that will allow him to fight in their state pending a clean test and we’re going to move forward. he’s moved forward. I think everybody else should move forward, too, and let the guy make a living.”

After these comments were made, I noted that Josh Barnett’s participation in a second tournament this year was made official. He will be one of eight men involved in the upcoming year-long IGF title tournament in Japan. Also involved in the tournament — Wakakirin. Probability of someone getting hurt while facing that guy in the ring? Decent. IGF tournament dates – 2/5 Fukuoka Int’l Center, 4/28 JCB Hall, 7/10 JCB Hall (Tokyo), and 9/3 at Aichi Prefectural Gym in Nagoya.

Then came the big news that surprised everyone except me (apparently) — Josh Barnett isn’t going to show up for the final hearing in California regarding his future for getting licensed in the state. Anyone who’s ever listened to interviews he’s done on this site in the past (and they’re still available for download) knows that he has never believed in athletic commissions regulating Mixed Martial Arts. He’s been pretty consistent in his stance on the matter. So, I’m not surprised that he decided to no-show the final hearing because he’s long had a fatalistic view about these kinds of issues. And, as you saw up above with Scott Coker, he has a promoter who is more than happy to promote him in friendly States or countries (ahem, Japan, as I told Josh Gross last week).

All of this leads us to Dave Meltzer’s comments yesterday on the matter. Dave is someone who has known Scott Coker for many years and knows the people at American Kickboxing Academy, the lynch pins for the company’s matchmaking for a long time. So, when Dave unloaded on Barnett and Strikeforce yesterday, we took notice and transcribed what he said.

DAVE MELTZER: “That really, I mean… I don’t know that says about him, but um… I was shocked. I was absolutely shocked because it’s basically throwing in the towel and you’re almost making yourself… I don’t know. I think that it really, you know if there was any doubts or any way for him to clear his name, that ain’t the way to do it.”

BRYAN ALVAREZ: “No. It is a baffling situation, I won’t lie.”

DAVE MELTZER: “You know the whole thing’s that happened from start-to-finish makes you question everything because it’s like every time, you know it’s been a year-plus, I mean there has been hearing after hearing where something didn’t happen, right, where once he doesn’t show up, you know last time he doesn’t bring his lawyer and now he’s just not going to be there at all when… You know, at this point, if he doesn’t come I think it’s pretty clear they’re not going to give him a license.”

BRYAN ALVAREZ: “No.”

DAVE MELTZER: “And if California doesn’t give him a license, yeah, sure, you can go commission shop, but that makes Coker and Strikeforce look bad for putting a guy in a tournament that, um, no-showed a hearing, you know, to get reinstated after a steroid test violation and also there’s going to be states like, you know, Nevada and New Jersey, you know powerful states where he’s not going to be able to fight. So, I almost you know, honest to God if he doesn’t go, if I was the promoter, no question, if I was the promoter in this situation, if I’m Coker, I’m telling him, dude, you change your mind and you get to that commission and you ask, I’m sorry I applied late, get me on the docket. Because if you’re not on that docket and they don’t approve you, I got to kick you out of the tournament. You got to. Because you can’t go in there and go, well, you know, what if Josh wins? We can’t have the final in San Jose. We can’t have the finals in Jersey, we can’t have the finals in Vegas.”

BRYAN ALVAREZ: “Not only that, but what if Josh wins? You’ve got to promoter-shop. If he wins, you have to promoter-shop for three different shows and…”

DAVE MELTZER: “I guess you could keep going to Texas, but then it also looks, it looks bad. Don’t get me wrong, boxing did the same thing with (Antonio) Margarito and they did, you know, 1 million plus buys with Margarito and Pacquaio, so it’s not like it’s something that hasn’t been done by boxing and it’s not something unprecedented or anything like that. But, I mean, I think it’s bad for the promotion and I think it’s bad for all concerned and I don’t understand. For himself, I think it looks bad because now it’s going to be, you know, you ran away from a hearing. I mean, it’s one thing, you know, he already has three positives. But running away from the hearing, I mean people are going to go OK, you know what evidence do they have on him? What is he hiding? You know he’s not even going to show up and fight?

“I don’t know, to me, I couldn’t put the guy in the tournament. You know, and he’s not instrumental in the tournament. I mean, if it was Werdum or it was Overeem or Fedor, one of those big three, you know maybe you go and give leeway because they’re so important to the tournament. Barnett is not, you know, yeah, it’s nice and he was a star in PRIDE and some people remember that, but he hasn’t don’t anything of major significance in MMA in years anyway. I mean, he may very well be, you know, he may very well be still a very good fighter, you know, you don’t know until you see him against top competition. I mean, what I’ve seen of him in his recent fights, I can say, you know, he hasn’t looked great or anything like that. The (Gilbert) Yvel fight he fight he dominated but didn’t finish and then the Geronimo dos Santos, that was a guy who was not top caliber by any means, you know he won the fight, but that’s immaterial anyway.

“I mean the thing is… Yeah, I was stunned when that I read. I just that, you know, from that last hearing, you bring your lawyer, you go in there, you act contrite.”

Topics: Media, MMA, StrikeForce, Zach Arnold | 11 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

11 Responses to “Dave Meltzer: Scott Coker should kick out Josh Barnett of Strikeforce tournament”

  1. Coyote says:

    I dont have any problem with Cormier taking his spot. Or even the winner of Del Rosario vs Jhonson.

  2. Tommy says:

    Steal this off a tweet I posted yesterday-

    Why does it seem that in 2011 Josh Barnett is far more trouble than he is worth to Strikeforce? Not a US draw, fringe top 12 HW, steroids etc.

    What has Barnett done to deserve this star treatment from Strikeforce? Cut bait and slot one of your heavyweight prospects in the 8man tournament.

    Just my opinion

  3. 45 Huddle says:

    Pure and simple…. Josh Barnett limits where Strikeforce can run cards from 1 to 3 cards this year. And Strikeforce does not have the promotional flexibility to have a fighter on their roster like that.

    He is not worthy the risk…. Not to mention what happens if he pisses hot AGAIN!!

    Another example of how desperate Strikeforce is looking in 2011.

  4. Jonathan says:

    Zach,

    Why post something like this when a) it has been been discussed in depth already and b) Strikeforce is not going to drop him from the tournament?

    What is the point?

    And the UFC is putting Brock Lesnar and Dos Santos on tough. A lot of the guys posting on this thread would talk all day about how that is a bad idea if it were Strikeforce and not the UFC doing it.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      Never been a fan of TUF since around season 5, but I don’t see the problem with what the UFC has done. The champion is injured and we have the 2 top contenders fighting for a shot at him. Sounds logical to me.

      Much more logical then Overeem fighting the winner of a tournament he is in where he isn’t defending his belt.

      As for Barnett. This is a serious thing. This could hurt SF big time. They don’t have the brand awareness to pick and choose where they fight. They can’t avoid all of CA, Nevada, and most other major styes when Barnett is fighting. They are going to get wrecked eventually doing so.

  5. NOS says:

    Those outside the UFC are criticized too often with the view that they shouldn’t fight again or are too risky. Those inside the UFC aren’t criticized enough and are often rewarded.

  6. fedor rules says:

    I’d love to see Josh beat the snot out of Lesnar.

  7. Jason Harris says:

    I can’t imagine Barnett is worth the headache. Personally, I was a big fan of Barnett and giving him another shot (everyone fucks up, right?) but when he pissed hot AGAIN and basically has said to hell with it, I’m not going to bother with the commission….wtf is he thinking? Not only is Strikeforce bending over backwards as far as booking him in commission friendly states, but they also put him in a bracket that he should easily win as long as he shows up.

    Barnett marrying Coker’s daughter or what?

  8. […] to not schedule attendance for a final meeting with the California State Athletic Commission, leading Dave Meltzer to call for Mr. Barnett to get kicked out of the tournament. That, in and of itself, was quite remarkable given that Dave is in the San Jose area and […]

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