Barnett last fought in the UFC back in March of 2002 when he stopped Randy Couture via a TKO stoppage to win the UFC Heavyweight Championship. Barnett was then stripped of the title after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs.
During his time away from the UFC Barnett fought for PRIDE during its heyday, a time when the best heavyweights in the world were considered to be PRIDE fighters.
When he makes his return on August 31st, Barnett feels as though he will be defending his title for the first time. He talked to MMAWeekly.com about it earlier this week:
“When I walk in the ring, in my mind, I’m making my first title defense. That’s the way I see it,”
“We’ve (himself and Frank Mir) always been in different places, even when he was fighting for titles. No one ever took my belt from me, so I don’t know what belt they were swinging around, but that wasn’t the UFC heavyweight title as far as I was concerned and I was off at Pride fighting the top dudes in the world at the time.”