It's a big reason why when it comes to contract negotiations, Barnett is a shrewd businessman that won't settle for something less than he believes he deserves. It's a necessary evil that sometimes keeps him out of the ring or cage for much longer than he wants, but at the end of the day Barnett wants to know that he's happy wherever he lands.
"It's never a scenario I really appreciated much, and especially now that the landscape of MMA is different and there isn't the opportunity to stay busy as previously," Barnett told Bleacher Report about contract negotiations. "I don't suffer from not having enough to do. If it's not directly MMA related, I have plenty of things to keep myself busy with projects and life itself. So the down time is appreciated, but the thing it's much better to know when your down time is and how long it's going to be so you can plan appropriately."
Barnett has fought all over the world for a number of different promotions, but for as big as MMA has grown as a sport, the number of organizations that are putting on big shows have dwindled seemingly year after year. Gone are the days of major MMA in places like Japan where the sport once flourished.
Looking at the current opportunities that are in the MMA promotional world, Barnett wants to make sure he's truly happy wherever he lands, but it won't be a rash decision just because he wants to fight.
"My thought process has dramatically veered away from the "who I want to fight" over the years versus the "where I want to fight". Where it worked out best for me. How I can be somewhere where I'm going to flourish, where I'm going to be my best in terms of my career. I'm an unusual type of fighter. I don't just make my living or build my brand off of fighting alone," said Barnett.
"Usually these companies can get some Joe Blow to take less, for less, and give up more. It's a lot easier sometimes to find whoever and report them to one of the best instead of actually having the best."
Following the final fight and the final card for Strikeforce earlier this year, Barnett became the biggest free agent in the MMA marketplace along with former Bellator champion Eddie Alvarez. Barnett's appeal is bigger than just what he does inside the cage because he has no problem grabbing a microphone and cutting a promo that would make the best in the pro wrestling world proud as well.
On day one in promotions like Bellator or World Series of Fighting, Barnett would be the best heavyweight on the roster, and even in the UFC he would be ranked amongst the top fighters in the division. That kind of reputation gives Barnett and his team power when negotiating a deal, but it also makes it tough to land the right contract because he knows what he's worth and settling for less just wouldn't be smart.
"For me it's more about getting the right kind of deal done. Because if I'm not fighting, I'm okay I can do other stuff. I've got other things to do. I've got other aspects of my career to work on and to work with. I'm okay with that. I'm going to stay in the gym and stay training and stay active in martial arts. It's not like I'm just going to. drop off, and all of a sudden have to get ready for a fight," Barnett stated.
"What secures your future is what's on paper. That's all I can really count on. The time that it takes to get that correct is the time it's going to take."
Barnett negotiated with the UFC on a deal earlier this year, but unfortunately the two parties couldn't come to an agreement. The good part is however no bridges were burned, and anything is possible.
The door isn't closed for any organization to land Barnett's services as of now, but the right deal hasn't come along to secure his services. As Barnett approaches his 36th birthday later this year, he wants to make the best move for his career and then he'll worry about smashing a few more heavyweights on his way to the top.
"I don't have any personal vendettas or anything of the sort with any of those companies. It's really just a matter of coming to terms with something I feel like is the right deal for me. I have no doubt if I'm in the UFC or Bellator or wherever that I'm going to bring value and offers to wherever I'm at," said Barnett.
"I don't have any doubts how I would fare against anybody in the world. I've been in plenty of fights in the ring, out of the ring, and I know what I'm capable of and how good I am."
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and all quotes were obtained first hand unless otherwise noted.
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