Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heads to Japan for a special mixed martial arts (MMA) fiesta this Saturday (September 26, 2015), as the Saitama Super Arena in Japan plays host to UFC Fight Night 75: "Barnett vs. Nelson," live on FOX Sports 1.
Catch all the action LIVE with a main card start time of 10 p.m ET (for up-to-date UFC Fight Night 75 results click here).
Below is everything you need to know to stay on top of the Fight Night event in Japan.
Who: Josh Barnett vs. Roy Nelson
What: UFC Fight Night 75
When: Sat., September 26 2015, beginning at 8 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 2
Where: Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.
How To Watch: FOX Sports 1 main card at 10 p.m. ET; FOX Sports 2 "Prelims" under card at 8 p.m. ET;
Live UFC Fight Night 75 results: Play-by-play coverage stream right here
Why It Matters: Didn't you hear? The legendary George Roop returns! Okay, so maybe that isn't the biggest storyline of UFC's return to Japan, but let's not pretend everyone isn't overly excited to watch The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) veteran back in action. Joking aside, any event that is hosted by the Saitama Super Arena has a special aura about it, as memories of legendary PRIDE events flood back into the collective MMA consciousness. With PRIDE veterans Josh Barnett and Gegard Mousasi set to throw down in the main and co-main event, UFC Fight Night 75 truly feels like an important event, even while lacking major consequential bouts.
What's Hot: After three weeks without UFC action, the anticipation for UFC Fight Night 75 is palpable. With fight fans constantly complaining about UFC's overwhelming schedule watering down the sport, it is nice to have a short hiatus to rekindle the excitement for an MMA card, no matter who is competing. On that note, UFC Fight Night 75 may not be the most stacked event we have seen in 2015, but a heavyweight slobberknocker in the main event could be exactly what the doctor ordered.
What's Not: Japanese fighters have not been all that successful inside the Octagon, with little more than a single true prospect coming from the "Land of the Rising Sun" in the last decade or so. That man would of course be Kyoji Horiguchi, who returns to the cage this weekend for the first time since his title loss to Demetrious Johnson. With very few prospects to get excited about, the legends of yesteryear are still very important to the Japanese MMA fanbase, and it is unfortunate that their legend, Norifumi Yamamoto was scratched from the event earlier this week due to an injury. While there are still plenty of Japanese representatives on the card in Saitama, it simply won't be the same without "Kid" Yamamoto.
Original Card vs Actual Card:
The changes to UFC Fight Night 75 have not been all that drastic, but the last minute scratch of "Kid" Yamamoto definitely cuts deep for Japanese fans.
Yamamoto was set to face off against Matt Hobar, but both men were injured this past week, leaving UFC brass no choice but to scratch the fight altogether.
Gegard Mousasi was set to battle Roan Carneiro in Japan this evening, but an injury to Carneiro gave Uriah Hall the opportunity to battle a top 10 opponent on short notice.
The only other change on this card was Kiichi Kunimoto pulling out of his scheduled fight against Li Jingliang. In Kunimoto's place, UFC brass called up Keita Nakamura to take the fight on short notice.
Roger Zapata (vs. Shinsho Anzai): You may remember Roger Zapata from TUF 19, unless of course you were brilliant enough to have skipped that dreadful season altogether. Regardless, "Viva" is finally set to make his Octagon debut after dealing with injuries for just about two years. Zapata will likely need a victory in Japan to earn his UFC roster spot.
Yusuke Kasuya (vs. Nick Hein): A Lightweight from Japan, Yusuke Kasuya will look to earn a victory on home soil in his Octagon debut against the stout Nick Hein. Kasuya is a finisher, earning a submission in eight of nine career victories. The Japanese native has yet to fight anyone of worth, but could be an intriguing prospect to watch this evening.
Teruto Ishihara (vs. Mizuto Hirota): "Yashabo" is set to make his UFC debut this evening against fellow Japanese native Mizuto Hirota. At 7-2, the Bantamweight has knocked out six opponents, fighting for both Shooto and Vale Tudo. Both of Ishihara's losses have come against future UFC contenders Michinori Tanaka and Yuta Sasaki.
How The "Prelims" Look: If you are a fan of Japanese MMA, then this is the "Prelims" card for you!
If not, well then I recommend skipping the FOX Sports 2 "Prelims" altogether.
With only four fights to choose from, there is extremely slim pickings early on at UFC Fight Night 75. Unless you are itching to watch Nick Hein, Kajan Johnson, and Roger Zapata, there is not much here to get excited over.
Who Needs A Win Badly: This portion is reserved for fighters who could be fighting for their jobs today, rather than contenders or title challengers needing victory. Let's take a look at those who need to pull it together:
Roger Zapata (vs. Shinsho Anzai): As previously mentioned, I believe Zapata must win in Japan to keep his UFC roster spot. Most TUF veterans that don't win the show are usually given only one shot to keep their roster spot, so I don't see why Zapata would be any different.
Naoyuki Kotani (vs. Kajan Johnson): This one is about as simple as it gets. Kotani has been finished in both UFC outings, and if he loses in Japan tonight, he will undoubtedly be cut from the organization.
Takeya Mizugaki (vs. George Roop): Two losses in a row never bodes well for a UFC fighter, and losing three straight is almost a guaranteed death sentence for an Octagon career. Truth is, however, Mizugaki was given two incredibly difficult opponents in a row in Dominick Cruz and Aljamain Sterling, so I think the longtime veteran keeps his roster spot win or lose tonight.
Roy Nelson (vs. Josh Barnett): "Big Country" may never get cut thanks in part to his ridiculous knockout power, but the facts are that Nelson has won a single fight in his last five, and that was against the aging Minotauro Nogueira. If Nelson loses to "The Warmaster" his job will be in jeopardy, but I still doubt UFC brass would let the heavy-handed Heavyweight go.
Interest Level: 5/10
This card is meant for Japanese MMA fans, so I'll give UFC brass a pass for the dreadful "Prelims."
The main card has some intriguing bouts, especially the final three fights of the evening. In my mind, the only worthwhile fights on the card are Kyoji Horiguchi vs Chico Camus, Gegard Mousasi vs Uriah Hall, and Josh Barnett vs Roy Nelson.
If you are debating on whether or not to watch UFC Fight Night 75 in its entirety, I recommend tuning in around 11:30 pm ET and enjoying some high-quality MMA bouts.
The rest of the card has the potential to be a disaster, or a slew of wild finishes.
Either way, enjoy the show!
Check out the full UFC Fight Night 75 card right here:
265 lbs.: Josh Barnett vs. Roy Nelson
185 lbs.: Gegard Mousasi vs. Uriah Hall
FOX Sports 1 Main Card (10 p.m. ET):
125 lbs.: Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Chico Camus
135 lbs.: Takeya Mizugaki vs. George Roop
145 lbs.: Diego Brandao vs. Katsunori Kikuno
145 lbs.: Mizuto Hirota vs. Teruto Ishihara
FOX Sports 2 Prelims (8 p.m. ET):
170 lbs.: Li Jingliang vs. Keita Nakamura
155 lbs.: Nick Hein vs. Yusuke Kasuya
155 lbs.: Kajan Johnson vs. Naoyuki Kotani
170 lbs.: Shinsho Anzai vs. Roger Zapata
MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 75 fight card on fight night, starting with the FOX Sports 2 "Prelims" bouts at 8 p.m. ET before moving on to the FOX Sports 1 main card at 10 p.m. ET.
See you then!