Former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett signs with Bellator

Ex-UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett is returning to MMA after a lengthy spell out, signing with Bellator MMA.

Bellator President Scott Coker put the news out there on Twitter as Barnett appeared on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show on ESPN.

At present, it’s unclear when Barnett will first appear in the Bellator cage and who his opponent would be.

However, Barnett’s signing could mean the long-awaited match-up with Fedor Emelianenko. The duo were supposed to fight under the ill-fated Affliction MMA banner in 2009, but the fight was pulled 10 days before as Barnett failed a drug test.

Barnett was officially released from the UFC last year after he failed an out-of-competition drug test in 2016. Barnett was able to prove to an independent arbitrator that the result was due to the tainted supplement, but grew frustrated at the UFC’s handling of the situation.

We last saw Barnett fight in September 2016. He was victorious, submitting fellow veteran heavyweight Andrei Arlovski with a rear-naked choke.

Jake Hughes

Jake Hughes

Jake Hughes is an MMA writer who has covered the sport since 2013 for publications such as Vice Sports, Fightland, Sherdog and now Fighters Only, where he serves as freelance digital editor.