It's official: Phil Baroni, a shameless (and effective) self-promoter who's better known as "The New York Bad Ass," is returning to the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
On Thursday the 33-year-old fighter signed a new multi-fight deal with the UFC and is heading to the organization's welterweight division.
Baroni today broke the news that he signed the deal while a guest on MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio), though no date or opponent have been determined for his return to the octagon.
"I just signed and sent my contract back to the UFC," Baroni said.
Baroni (13-11 MMA, 3-5 UFC) hasn't fought in the UFC since UFC 51 in 2005, when he suffered a submission loss to Pete Sell. It was the fourth consecutive loss for Baroni, who burst onto the UFC scene in 2001 with a series of devastating knockouts and a 3-1 record.
Since he was initially released by the organization, Baroni has fought all over the world with organizations such as PRIDE, Strikeforce, ICON Sport, EliteXC, Cage Rage and Palace Fighting Championships.
Despite his return to the organization, Baroni doesn't see the new UFC deal as an accomplishment. Not yet, anyway.
"There's nothing to celebrate," Baroni said. "You celebrate after you win. Getting picked up isn't (worth) celebrating. After you win, you have a celebration."
After a three-fight losing streak in 2008, which included an EliteXC defeat to Joey Villesenor in the first U.S. network-televised MMA event, Baroni dropped to welterweight and pieced together a three-fight win streak. However, the streak was snapped in June with unanimous-decision loss to Joe Riggs in Strikeforce.
On Thursday night, just hours after reports of Baroni potentially returning to the UFC first surfaced, Strikeforce officials announced they had released Baroni from the organization.
"We wish Phil the best of luck and hope he can revive his career," Strikeforce CEO and founder Scott Coker stated. "If he can, maybe one day, he can return and fight for us."
Baroni, though, said he wasn't cut and simply declined to negotiate a deal that would have put him in the organization's "Challengers" series and a fight with Erik Apple.
Despite Coker's subtle dig, Baroni said his experience with Strikeforce was a positive one.
"They're doing a lot of good things and giving another place fighters can go (to) and compete," Baroni said. "I've got nothing bad to say about them."
The native Long Islander, a two-time All-American collegiate wrestler at Central Michigan University, is best known as a stand-up fighter with quick hands and plenty of knockout power. However, suspect conditioning and inconsistency has plagued the fighter during a colorful nine-year pro career, though both areas have improved since his current affiliations with Xtreme Couture and the American Kickboxing Academy.
MMAjunkie.com Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at noon EST (9 a.m. PST) live from the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino's Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by Gorgeous George, MMAjunkie.com lead staff reporter John Morgan and producer Goze. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.