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Josh Barnett expected to fight winner of Ryan Bader vs Cheick Kongo in Bellator MMA debut

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Arlovski vs Barnett Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports

Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight champion, Josh Barnett, is expected to score a heavyweight title shot for his Bellator MMA debut later this year, which puts him in the crosshairs of the winner of Ryan Bader vs. Cheick Kongo.

Bader captured the 265-pound strap by stopping Fedor Emelianenko back in January.

“Ryan will stay at heavyweight for his next fight and he will fight the No. 1 contender that is Cheick Kongo,” Coker told ESPN (transcribed by “That fight will probably happen in the fall, or late summertime something like August or September. That fight will happen and then Josh will probably fight the winner of the two.”

Kongo has won eight straight dating back to early 2015.

Barnett (35-8) has not competed since choking out Andrei Arlovski at UFC Fight Night 93 in late 2016, thanks to a run-in with United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). His existing relationship with Scott Coker from the days of Strikeforce, as well as his name value, are likely the reasons for his immediate title shot.

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