Josh Barnett and Roy Nelson -- contenders in the heavyweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship -- will be headline a UFC Fight Night event at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, on Sept. 26, 2015. The announcement of the pair’s meeting in the octagon was made Wednesday night, as confirmed by various mixed martial arts websites.
“We are very happy to be bringing our live event to the Saitama Super Arena once again this year,” Ken Berger, executive vice president and general manager of UFC Asia, said in a statement. “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.”
Berger also revealed via mmajunkie.com that the pair will serve as coaches in the “Road to UFC: Japan” reality series, which will feature eight Japanese mixed martial artist prospects who will compete against each other to earn a lone UFC contract.
Barnett, 37, has been out of action since December 2013, when he lost to Travis Browne at UFC 168 via a first-round knockout. Nelson, 38, is also coming off a loss in his last bout, against Alistair Overeem in UFC 185, via a three-round unanimous decision.
Before the loss to Browne, Barnett won back-to-back fights, both via first-round stoppage, against Nandor Guelmino in January 2013 and Frank Mir in August 2013. Barnett went undefeated from March 2008 to September 2011 and finished seven of eight fights via submission or knockout/technical knockout.
Nelson is 1-4-0 in his last five fights and has yet to win back-to-back matches since beating Dave Herman in May 2012 and Matt Mitrione in December 2012. However, the last time Nelson lost back-to-back fights, to Stipe Miocic in June 2013 and Daniel Cormier in October 2013, Nelson bounced back with a convincing Round 1 KO/TKO of Minotauro Nogueira in his next fight.
Barnett (33-7-0) is ranked No. 5 in the heavyweight division while Nelson (21-11-0) is ranked No. 11, as per the official rankings via UFC.com.
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