A clash between two veteran heavyweights will headline the UFC’s next foray into Japan. The UFC announced at the UFC Fight Night 66 pre-fight press conference that Roy Nelson is set to take on Josh Barnett in the main event of UFC Japan, which is set to take place September 27 at the famed Saitama Super Arena. No other details have been announced as far as other fights on the card goes, but one can assume it will feature a number of the UFC’s top Asian fighters on the card. According to BloodyElbow.com, before Nelson and Barnett get into the Octagon, they will coach a new Japanese “Ultimate Fighter”-type show called Road to UFC: Japan that will feature eight Japanese prospects being coached by Nelson and Barnett as they try to reach the next levels of their respective careers. Yes, that’s right, Nelson is going to be coaching TUF, even though his own training regiment has been questioned over the years. As far as the fight between Barnett and Nelson goes, it’s a pretty decent scrap between two aging heavyweights who are trying to retain their top-15 rankings. Barnett has not competed since UFC 168 (the night Anderson Silva broke his leg), so by the time September comes around it will be almost two years since Barnett last competed, which is obviously a huge red flag, especially given his age. Skill-wise, though, Barnett is still a great grappler, one of the best in the heavyweight division, and is one of the most experienced guys in the world, so you can’t fully write him off despite the long layoff and despite being brutally knocked out by Travis Browne the last time we saw him. As for Nelson, he’s coming off of a terrible performance against Alistair Overeem where he just looked awful, getting the tar beat out of him and rarely looking competitive. Before that, he was brutally knocked out by Mark Hunt, and overall Nelson has lost four of his last five fights. He still has his patented right hand, as we saw in his fight last year against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, but other than that he hasn’t shown much in his fights as of late, so this is a pretty fair fight against a fighter who has been outw for two years like Barnett. I could really see this fight going either way, but I have to lean towards Barnett. He’s just a better wrestler and overall a better mixed martial artist. I’m not sure if he finishes Nelson, but he should at least be able to push him against the fence and win a decision. I’m expecting close odds given that it’s a heavyweight bout, but I definitely lean towards “The Warmaster” in this spot.
Disclaimer: This page contains affiliate links and MMA Odds Breaker will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on the links.