To watch Josh Barnett vs. Roy Nelson full fight video highlights from last night right now click here.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight veterans Josh Barnett and Roy Nelson threw down last night (Sept. 26, 2015) at UFC Fight Night 75 inside Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.
Prior to his bout with Nelson, Barnett hadn't fought in nearly two years. Motivated to prove that he's still a top fighter, Barnett had a lot on the line in last night's main event.
On the other hand, Nelson has been competing fairly consistently, but he hasn't been winning. Nelson has never been a contender, but he was in danger of losing his longtime position of gatekeeper if he couldn't pull off the victory.
While he didn't earn the victory, Nelson still has something left in the tank.
In a very surprising turn of events, Roy Nelson scored with a single leg takedown about a minute into the fight. Sitting on top in half guard, Nelson weighed heavily on his opponent and tried to escape to side control.
However, he was not active enough, and the referee stood them up.
Back on the feet, Barnett continued to pressure his opponent from the southpaw stance, landing big kicks and knees. When he moved into the clinch, Barnett continued to work with uppercuts and knees to the mid-section. Then, Nelson scored another takedown with about 40 seconds remaining, riding the round out.
In a truly strange round, Nelson scored with takedowns, while Barnett out-struck his opponent.
Wait, what? Heavyweight is truly bizarre.
To start the second round, Barnett continued to work out of the Southpaw stance, attacking with his jab and inside low kick. Nelson, meanwhile, actually showed a variety of strikes, landing with his left hook and right uppercut.
Just before the halfway point in the round, Barnett rocked his opponent with a solid combo that allowed him to move into the clinch. From there, the grueling clinch work took its toll on Nelson, who slowed down and absorbed a ton of punishment. Nonetheless, "Big Country" did land some heavy shots near the end of the round, proving he was still with it.
At the end of two rounds, the scorecards were likely tied.
The first half of the third round took place almost entirely in the clinch. Nelson controlled a body lock and landed some hard knees to the legs early, but Barnett fought off his takedown attempts and eventually reversed position.
It also became clear how tired both men were in this round. The volume of strikes thrown dropped for both men, as Nelson and Barnett continued wrestling in the clinch.
Overall, it was a very close round, and either man's fight heading into the championship rounds.
Nelson briefly scored with a takedown to open the fourth round, but Barnett scrambled up to his feet quickly. He then regained control in the clinch and began ripping into Nelson with uppercuts, knees, and elbows.
Despite the abuse he was taking, Nelson managed to land another takedown, but Barnett used a slick heel hook attempt to stand up. Once again, Barnett reversed position and controlled his opponent with dirty boxing until the end of the round.
In all likelihood, Nelson needed a finish in the fifth to win.
After getting touched up my Barnett's clinch striking for nearly three minutes, Nelson landed another takedown. However, he simply could not hold the catch wrestler down, and both men went back to working from the clinch. After four hard rounds of combat, both men were exhausted.
But neither backed away, and the heavyweights traded until the final bell. At the end of the bout, "The Warmaster" was awarded the unanimous decision.
This was an incredible performance by Barnett. It's the best he's looked on his feet in his entire career, and he pushed a hard pace for the full 25 minutes. At this point, it's hard to argue that Barnett's clinch work and dirty boxing is some of the division's best.
Depending on his upcoming match ups, it's not hard to see Barnett in the title picture sooner rather than later. Personally, I think a match with Junior dos Santos would be very interesting, as dos Santos has issues with being put against the fence but is still a ferocious puncher.
As a side note, Barnett's performance does raise some question. Barnett has failed many a drug test in his career, and he looked physically more muscular in this bout than he has in years. Additionally, most heavyweight fighters can't go 25 minutes at that pace ever, let alone nearly two decades and 40-some fights into his career.
Maybe it's nothing, but Barnett's track record does not inspire confidence.
Similarly, this is the best performance of Roy Nelson's entire UFC career. He may have quickly knocked out some lesser fighters in the past, but he actually changed up his game. "Big Country" finally did something other than spam the overhand, and that's why this fight was so close.
Despite the improvement, Nelson needs a step back. He's lost five of his last six fights now, and that doesn't fairly represent his abilities, assuming he doesn't immediately regress following this fight.
Get Nelson in there with a couple unranked heavyweights, and then he can challenge the top of the division once more.
Last night, Josh Barnett came out on top in a war of attrition with Roy Nelson. Where does the catch wrestler go from here?
For complete UFC Fight Night 75 "Barnett vs Nelson" results and play-by-play click HERE!