Josh Barnett TNA

MMA fighter Josh Barnett is set to make his return to pro wrestling tonight.

The currently suspended UFC competitor will make his debut for TNA Wrestling at a set of tapings in Orlando.

Barnett, a popular former UFC Champion, at heavyweight, has a history as a pro wrestler, although he has never performed for an American promotion.

Having previously wrestled primarily in Japan, he is the incumbent color commentator for AXS TV’s New Japan Pro Wrestling.

His latest employers, TNA will be completing an 8-day taping marathon tonight at, their long-time home, Universal Studios.

The smart money says that Barnett will interact with fellow MMA practitioner Bobby Lashley.

Lashley fights for Bellator and boasts a 15-2 MMA record. The future prospect of a UFC vs. Bellator match, could be one of the few drawing cards available to the beleaguered TNA promotion. Both Lashley and Barnett possess relative name value.

The ongoing TNA tapings will cover Impact Wrestling episodes to be broadcast in February and March.

Barnett is suspended from MMA, provisionally, by USADA, due to an out-of-competition drug test in December.

TNA has a history of using controversial MMA fighters; with Tito Ortiz, Rampage Jackson and Frank Trigg having featured in significant past storylines.

Barnett is a unique character with a cult appeal. He is known for being a fan of metal band Bolt Thrower and strategy game Warhammer. He is also a fanatic disciple of catch wrestling savant Billy Robinson. Robinson was a major multi-continental pro wrestling star of the ’70s, and Barnett cites the Brit’s hour-long match with the legendary Antonio Inoki as his favourite example of a pro wrestling match.

Indeed, Barnett has previously worked with Bobby Lashley for Inoki’s IGF promotion, in Tokyo.

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