UFC Fight Night 75 takes place this Saturday from the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. The event is headlined by hard hitting heavyweights Josh “The Warmaster” Barnett and Roy “Big Country” Nelson, who have been top heavyweights for many years. This is the first UFC event in three weeks, which is a rarity these days. In this article I will break down both fighters and give my thoughts on the matchup. Josh Barnett (33-7 MMA, 5-2 MMA, -240 favorite) It has almost been two years since the last time Josh Barnett stepped foot inside the UFC Octagon. Although he has not been fighting, he has been competing in grappling tournaments and is actually the Metamoris Heavyweight Champion. Further, he spends considerable time training fighters, including Shayna Baszler, Marina Shafir, Jessamyn Duke, and Victor Henry. It was somewhat of a shock when Barnett resigned with the UFC in 2013 because he had failed drug tests on three separate occasions. The first of which caused him to be stripped of the UFC Heavyweight Championship h won from Randy Couture in 2002. Still, Barnett has beaten some of the best fighters in the world over the last 15 years, including Couture, Frank Mir, Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera, and Mark Hunt. The 37 year old Barnett is a catch wresting and grappling expert that has 20 submission victories out of his 33 career wins. His ground game is not like a typical jiu jitsu player, he relies much more on brute force and power. He often refers to catch wrestling as “the more violent art”. Josh’s submission game is deadly and he can submit his opponent from just about any position. He recently just submitted grappling legend Dean Lister by a scarf hold/neck crank, which is quite an accomplishment because Lister had not been submitted in many years. Barnett will attack his opponent’s arms, legs, feet, and neck. His submissions always come from top position, as his bottom game is not nearly as good at his top game. Additionally, he is an adept guard passer that has one of the best full mounts in mixed martial arts. On the feet Barnett has a serviceable standup game, but he mostly looks to close the distance, clinch, and get a takedown. His takedowns are not the traditional double and single-leg takedowns that you see American wrestlers hit in open space. He relies on trips and throws from the clinch and double-legs when he has his opponent pressed up against the fence. An underrated aspect of Barnett’s game is his dirty boxing in the clinch. He has vicious knees, elbows, and punches in the clinch, which he showcased in his fight against Frank Mir. Josh also has above-average conditioning for a heavyweight, which may be factor in this fight. Roy Nelson (20-11 MMA, 7-7 UFC, +190 underdog) Nelson and his protruding belly have been a fan favorite for many years. He is a former IFL Heavyweight Champion, but he was not widely known until he competed on season 10 of The Ultimate Fighter. Roy destroyed fan favorite Kimbo Slice in the opening round and wound up reaching the finals, where he squared off against Brendan Schaub. Nelson throttled Schaub with a huge overhand right in the first round, which earned him a six-figure contract with the UFC. Roy has been up and down since the show, as he usually beats the lower to mid-level fighters but loses to elite competitors Amazingly, all seven of Roy’s UFC wins have come via knockout. He goes into each fight looking to knock his opponent senseless, which is both good and bad. It is great when he lands that big punch but they are often easy to see coming, which gives his opponent time to get out of the way. Additionally, Nelson relies far too much on his right hand, he does not mix up his attack very often at all. That was part of the reason why he has lost four out of his last five fights. Roy has been known to have an iron chin, but his chin might be starting to show some cracks. He was knocked out cold by Mark Hunt last year, and that was the first time he has ever been finished inside the Octagon. Nelson is also a black belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu, but he hardly ever uses it. He always goes for the knockout, even if he has a sizeable advantage on the mat. Additionally, Nelson’s conditioning is poor andhe usually fades pretty hard after the first round or two. Thoughts This is an interesting fight. Barnett has more ways to win but he has several things going against him. He has not fought in almost two years and we do not know what kind of shape he is in for this contest. He seems motivated, but you never know. Barnett will have an advantage in speed, clinch work and dirty boxing, and when he achieves top position. However, Roy is not the easiest guy to take down, especially early, so Barnett might have to wear him out for a few rounds. That will put Barnett in the danger zone, as Nelson only needs one punch to end this fight. Look for Barnett to come right after Nelson and use his clinch and dirty boxing game in an effort to inflict damage and tire Nelson out. After a few rounds he might be able to land a few takedowns and go to work from top position. I am not sure if he will be able to submit Nelson, as Roy is very crafty on the ground, but it is a possibility. The longer the fight goes the more it favors Barnett and I like him to pick up the win here. The Prediction: Josh Barnett defeats Roy Nelson by unanimous decision
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