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Affliction: Josh Barnett vs Pedro Rizzo 2

affliction fighting josh barnett pedro rizzo
Former UFC heavyweight champion and PRIDE superstar Josh "The Babyface Assassin" Barnett (21-5) will face fellow UFC veteran Pedro "The Rock" Rizzo (16-7) on July 19 at the first mixed martial arts event under the Affliction banner according to reports from both Sherdog and MMAWeekly.

In addition to being one of the most sought-after free agents in mixed martial arts (this side of the Iron Curtain), Barnett has already tasted victory at Sengoku where he defeated Judo master Hidehiko Yoshida via heel hook back in March.

Now he gets to a chance to avenge his first career loss when he faces the heavy-handed Brazilian who knocked Barnett out way back at UFC 30 -- more than seven years ago.

Aside from that loss to Rizzo, Barnett has only been defeated by two other men: Current UFC heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira and three losses to promotion-hopper Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic.

First however "The Babyface Assassin" must concentrate on his upcoming bout against Jeff Monson at World Victory Road’s Sengoku II on May 18.

From Barnett:

"I said after he knocked me out with one of those really nice, well put together Pedro Rizzo right hands, I stood right there for the challenge and said you know what, I’m going to come back here, I’m going to fight him again and next time I’m knocking his ass out. So I’ve got to make good on my promises and I’ve got to stick to my word. As much as I love my buddy Fedor, it’s going to suck for him because I’m stealing the show."

Rizzo has fought sporadically since his UFC days and despite having hands of steel, is a mediocre 5-6 since his first match with Barnett. Still, "The Rock' is on a two-fight winning streak, having outpointed Justin Eliers at Art of War 1 last March and stopping Jeff Monson at Art of War 3 in September.

From Rizzo:

"I was hoping to face him due to the fact that he is one of the top five heavyweights, a very tough guy. This is my chance to return to the top, and I will seize it the best way. I was training all the time and relaxed last week. This Monday I came back, and now there are 11 weeks to the fight. I think it's the perfect time to get well technically, get in order and make a great fight. I think this fight should be better than [the first]. Our fight was seven years ago and was very good. Today Josh is a much better fighter than at that time, as am I. I think the public can expect a big fight again."

Whether or not he's been competing at a high enough level to once again topple Barnett remains to be seen. Barnett's personality may not be for everyone, but there is no denying he is one of the sport's elite heavyweights and a very complete fighter.

The Affliction event is headlined by former PRIDE heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko (27-1) vs former UFC heavyweight champion Tim "The Maine-iac" Sylvia (24-4). Matt Lindland is also rumored for the card but an opponent has yet to be named.

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