LOS ANGELES — The California State Athletic Commission voted 4-2 on Monday to re-license former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett for a May 19 bout against fellow Strikeforce grand prix finalist Daniel Cormier — his first fight in the state in more than three years.
Barnett, 34, had been denied re-licensure in July 2009 for one year after a pre-fight test revealed an anabolic steroid in the fighter’s system prior to a headlining bout against Fedor Emelianenko for the now defunct Affliction promotion.
As part of Barnett’s current application for re-licensure, the fighter had to submit to a urinalysis test around Feb. 29, of which the results came back negative for steroids. In its decision, the CSAC also stipulated that Barnett will be subject to random pre-fight urinalysis testing prior to his fight with Cormier, as well as any other bouts he accepts in California.
On Monday, Barnett (31-5) told the attending six-member commission that he hadn’t knowingly ingested steroids prior to the 2009 test.
“I can only assume that [the positive test] could have been from some sort of [tainted] supplementation that I unknowingly had taken,” Barnett said. “I know that I wasn’t taking steroids; that’s what I do know.”
Barnett and his attorneys had previously begun the process to appeal the license denial in 2009, but never presented their case before the commission before the suspension expired in July 2010.
In December 2010, Barnett appeared alone before the CSAC for re-licensure, but was instructed to return with legal representation. In the interim, Barnett fought bouts for Strikeforce in Ohio and Texas.
When asked, Barnett also denied taking steroids prior to another positive test in 2002 conducted by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
In 2002, Barnett served a six-month suspension after a post-fight urinalysis detected three anabolic agents (Boldenone metabolite, Fluoxymesterone metabolite and Nandrolone metabolite) in his system following his victory over Randy Couture for the heavyweight title at UFC 36.
Strikeforce general manager Scott Coker, who was in attendance at the hearing, said the promotion plans to hold the finals of its heavyweight eight-man tournament in California, possibly at San Jose’s HP Pavilion or an alternate Southern California location.
– Loretta Hunt