Josh Barnett and Roy Nelson will match wits and skills in Japan. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
They are two of the more successful and well-known heavyweights of their generation, and with the sun setting on their respective careers, Josh Barnett and Roy Nelson have an appointment to keep inside the Octagon.
Barnett will meet Nelson in the UFC Fight Night 75 main event on Saturday at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama Japan, as the two aging veterans try to remain relevant in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s largely barren heavyweight division. It will mark the fourth time the UFC has visited Japan since parent company Zuffa purchased Pride Fighting Championships in 2007.
An Erik Paulson protégé who trains out of the CSW camp in California, Barnett has not fought since he succumbed to a series of vicious first-round elbows from Travis Brown at UFC 168 nearly two years ago. The 37-year-old has secured 28 of his 33 career wins by knockout, technical knockout or submission and owns victories over Frank Mir, Sergei Kharitonov, Hidehiko Yoshida, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Mark Hunt and Dan Severn, among others. Barnett has won 10 of his past 12 bouts, losing only to Browne and the American Kickboxing Academy’s Daniel Cormier.
Nelson, 39 last competed at UFC 185 on March 14, when he absorbed a three-round beating in a unanimous decision loss to Alistair Overeem at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. A former International Fight League champion who holds the rank of black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under Royce Gracie, “Big Country” has lost four of his last five fights.
With the Barnett-Nelson battle as the draw, here are 10 facts surrounding UFC Fight Night 75:
FACT 1: When Barnett climbs into the cage, a total of 13 years, six months and four days will have passed since he defeated Randy Couture at UFC 36 to become the youngest heavyweight champion in Ultimate Fighting Championship history.
FACT 2: Nelson has pocketed six post-fight performance bonuses in his 14 UFC appearances. The total haul: $305,000.
FACT 3: The five men who have beaten former Strikeforce and Dream champion Gegard Mousasi -- Ronaldo Souza, Lyoto Machida, Muhammed Lawal, Akihiro Gono and Petras Markevicius -- have 123 wins between them.
FACT 4: Four of two-time Ring of Combat titleholder Uriah Hall’s five career defeats have come by decision. The lone outlier: A knockout loss to current UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman on Sept. 24, 2010.
FACT 5: In his four UFC victories, per FightMetric, Kyoji Horiguchi has out-landed his opponents 170-71 in significant strikes and 264-100 in total strikes.
FACT 6: “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 8 semifinalist George Roop has never won or lost more than three fights in a row during his nine-year career.
FACT 7: Katsunori Kikuno is one of eight fighters to have held the Deep lightweight championship. Dokonjonosuke Mishima, Nobuhiro Obiya, Kazunori Yokota, Tae Hyun Bang, Mizuto Hirota, Daisuke Nakamura and Satoru Kitaoka are the others.
FACT 8: Former Sengoku, Deep and Shooto Pacific Rim champion Keita Nakamura has recorded 15 of his 30 career victories via submission, 13 of them rear-naked chokes.
FACT 9: Teruto Ishihara sports six first-round finishes among his seven professional victories, including 16-, 19- and 63-second stoppages.
FACT 10: The 20 fighters on the UFC Fight Night “Barnett vs. Nelson” roster own a cumulative record of 356-120-21.