This weekend the UFC travels across the world to the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan for Fight Night 75.
The main event pits two heavyweight against each other with former champion Josh Barnett (33-7 MMA, 5-2 UFC) squaring off against the season 10 winner of the Ultimate Fighter, Roy ‘big country’ Nelson (20-11 MMA, 7-7 UFC).
Josh ‘warmaster’ Barnett is no stranger to the land of the rising sun, having fought in their showpiece MMA organisation Pride.
Roy Nelson is trying to turn around a string of defeats which has seen the American lose four of his last five bouts, including a brutal knockout via Australia’s Mark Hunt.
A Loss here would surely spell the end of the 39-year old Nelson’s career.
Josh Barnett: $1.36
Roy Nelson: $3.06
The road to Saitama Super Arena, Japan
With question marks already lingering on both fighters, a loss here could see the victor make one last push at glory and the loser retire into the sunset.
Former UFC champion Josh Barnett is no stranger to the ravishes of time, having fought professionally in 40 fights across his career.
The mental and physical battles of his career has taken a toll on the 37-year-old American, but he finds a way to forge on.
“At the highest level, when you really need to push yourself, it’s hard on you. It really is,” Barnett said of the grind to get himself in fighting shape.
“And if you do it long enough, you start to accumulate bumps, bruises, injuries over time. It’s inevitable.”
As his career has rolled on, Barnett has realised just how important the preparation for a fight is, not only tactically, but physically and mentally too.
“That’s why you need training camps. To ease yourself into these things. And as you get older, myself included, you have to learn to train smarter,” Barnett said.
“Not necessarily running your head into the wall over and over and over.
“When you were 20 you might have been able to put your head through it,”
“When you’re almost 40, you may put your head through it, but the rest of you is going to say ‘I’m glad you did that but that’s all we’ve got for today.’ And you’re going to be hurting for a while.”
It has been a 22 month break for Barnett since his last bout, a knockout loss to Travis Browne.
The battering he took has given the former champ greater perspective, especially in his planning for his post-fight career.
It looms as a huge fight for Nelson.
The man they call big country has struggled as of late, losing four of his last five bouts.
In a competitive heavyweight division, Nelson will struggle to return to the upper echelons of the sport if he is to lose to Barnett in Japan, something he will have to be acutely aware of.
The 39-year old American said in the lead up though, win, lose or draw he will be proud that he always stayed true to himself.
“The biggest one is just me going out and giving a 110 percent of what’s me, what’s my personal martial arts skills. Not nothing extra, no extra supplements or anything like that,” Nelson said.
“Just, what can I do as a man, as a person. Just go out there against the best fighters in the world and see where I stand.”
“That’s what I want. The other one is just being able to provide for my family, and try to be the best husband and father that I possibly can.”
Who will win and why:
Winner: Josh Barnett – $1.36
Method of victory: Josh Barnett by submission – $3.75
What round will the fight end?: Round 3 – $7.00
Both fighters are in the twilight of their respective careers which makes this match up a very intriguing bout.
The man they call big country has shown little growth over the course of his career, but even in the latter stages of fight life, he still possesses knockout power.
Barnett has a lot more strings to his bow, as evidenced by a career victory record that has seen the 37-year old submit and knockout opponents.
Another component that will play in Barnett’s favour is the 22-month layoff.
For a veteran who is feeling the wear and tear of a 40 fight career, the time off for the former champ will be hugely beneficial.
The best bet of the fight is the over/under round market, with over 1.5 rounds at $1.61 with Sportsbet.
If Barnett is able to avoid the knockout blow from Nelson early in the contest the man they call warmaster has the ability to finish big country in a multitude of ways and should prove too much his 39-year old opponent.
Other fights on the card:
Shinsho Anzai ($1.90) vs. Roger Zapata ($1.90)
Naoyuki Kotani ($3.09) vs. Kajan Johnson ($1.37)
Nick Hein ($1.30) vs. Yusuke Kasuya ($3.56)
Keita Nakamura ($2.86) vs. Li Jingliang ($1.43)
Mizuto Hirota ($1.33) vs. Teruto Ishihara ($3.34)
Katsunori Kikuno ($2.86) vs. Diego Brando ($1.43)
Takeya Mizugaki ($1.43) vs. George Roop (2.86)
Kyoji Horiguchi ($1.27) vs. Chico Camus ($3.80)
Gegard Mousasi ($1.19) vs. Urijah Hall ($4.75)