New, young competitors do not spend enough time studying the history of MMA before and during their time as fighters, according to Josh Barnett.
The heavyweight, who faces Daniel Cormier in the final of the Strikeforce World Grand Prix on Saturday May 19th, told a press breakfast for the event that MMA should take the time to appreciate the history of the sport. He added that there isn’t quite the same sense of history among participants as there is with professional wrestlers.
He said: “One thing that wrestlers got over MMA guys is they know their history. In MMA, there's a lot of kids just run out here and they don't know nothing. They couldn't tell you what Pancrase was … But you should know your past. Just like with wrestling."
Barnett competed for New Japan Pro Wrestling in 2003 and 2004, joining a tradition of fighters with wrestling experience which includes Don Frye, Ken Shamrock, Dan Severn, Bob Sapp and most recently Brock Lesnar.
Commenting on the differences between his past and present professions, Barnett told reporters that they both have big similarities, but fundamental differences. He said: “At some point, there became that great divide, but they both require tremendous amounts of skill. They're both similar and yet different.
“I think a professional wrestler should know both sides. Because if you want to go out there and capture everybody's hearts and have them get so invested into a fight, to the point that they forget what they're watching, that it is a worked outcome; then you should know what a real fight is like.”
Cormier, Barnett’s opponent on May 19th, also spoke at the breakfast, relating his respect for Barnett’s experience across both wrestling disciplines. “Josh is a wrestler. Josh takes people down, and then you're in his world. He submit[ted] the vast majority of people he fought.”