Josh Barnett finally has his next bout, and the heavyweight is returning to familiar stomping grounds for it.
The UFC has announced that Barnett will fight fellow contender Roy Nelson on September 27th, at the promotion’s next event in Japan. The card will be hosted by the iconic Saitama Super Arena and it will be headlined by the Barnett-Nelson clash.
But, that’s not all. The UFC has also announced that the two are going to coach a new show called “Road to UFC: Japan”, which will feature eight fighters from that nation competing for a contract. The finalists will also fight at the September 27th card (which will air September 26th in North America due to the time difference).
“We are very happy to be bringing our live event to the Saitama Super Arena once again this year,” Executive Vice President and General Manager, UFC Asia, Ken Berger said in the announcement “There is a rich and diverse MMA talent in Japan and we’re positive that through ROAD TO UFC: JAPAN, we will uncover more UFC prospects. We have recently witnessed the fast power of Kyoji Horiguchi in the Octagon® against flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson and it really is only a matter of time before we see a champion emerge from Japan.”
The announcement did not say what weight class the fighters will compete in, but, the show will begin airing in July and will run into September.
So, if you’re a fan of Japanese MMA, this should be good news. Likewise if you enjoy watching Barnett and Nelson throw down. It also makes sense that the UFC tapped Barnett for this assignment, considering his his extensive experience fighting and wrestling in Japan.
Barnett (33-7) will be fighting for the first time in 2015 (excluding Metamoris competition), as the PRIDE vet hasn’t fought since last December when he was taken out by Travis Browne. Prior to that, the 37 year-old had scored consecutive wins over Frank Mir and Nandor Guelmino.
Nelson (20-11) has dropped his last two fights, as he was KO’d by Mark Hunt in September, and more recently in March he was decisioned by Alistair Overeem. Before the defeats the 38 year-old stopped Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
No other bouts have been confirmed for the September 27th event.