While most people are likely curious to see how Josh Barnett performs in his UFC return this Saturday versus Frank Mir, old school fans are probably a little more intrigued. Not only did Barnett win the UFC heavyweight belt in 2002, but he also competed for PRIDE, during a time when most pundits believed the promotion ruled MMA.

Not only did the PRIDE era eventually come to an end, however, but MMA continues to struggle in Japan, which not many people would have predicted a decade ago. Barnett recently appeared on “The MMA Hour” to promote his UFC 164 tilt with Mir, and was asked to comment on the state of MMA in Japan.

“It makes me really sad,” Barnett said. “The more MMA there is globally, the better off all of us are, in terms of increasing our fanbase and increasing our revenue opportunities. But it’s also said as someone who lived over there and was part of that to see the ancient Atlantis of MMA crumble under the sea.”

If you don’t get the Atlantis reference, you have some homework to do. Of more immediate concern, of course, is Barnett’s bout with Mir, and it sounds like the heavyweight is pretty focused on the scrap.

“I understand this is a big moment for me,” Barnett said. “But in the forefront of my mind is simply Frank Mir. Simply beating and punching and grabbing and choking and spitting and biting until a ref makes me quit. That’s all I care about. … I can think about the importance of all the external factors after. It’s like going into a title fight, and they ask about the belt. Yeah yeah, the belt, the belt. Trust me, I’m aware of it. I like gold shiny things. the fight is what gets me those gold shiny things. To the winner goes the spoils.”

UFC 164 will be hosted by the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee and the main card will available via pay-per-view.

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