Josh Barnett won a unanimous decision on the strength of fantastic pressure and strike volume in the clinch against a durable Roy Nelson on Saturday night in the main event of UFC Fight Night in Japan. For his part, Nelson scored many takedowns throughout the bout and controlled the ground action, but it wasn't enough.
After their battle, Barnett brought Roy Nelson over at the tail-end of his interview and praised his opponent. "Roy Nelson is a champ," he said.
"It's not about belts. It's about how you fight. Roy Nelson fights like he means it. Roy took everything I had, and came back. Roy Nelson is the man."
Josh Barnett (33-7) vs. Roy Nelson (20-11)
Roy lands a glancing overhand right that elicits an "ooh" from the crowd. Roy gets a takedown and lands on top in the half guard!
The referee stands up Roy from his dominant position on top. Sad, standing up two Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belts from the ground.
Barnett lands a kick to the body, a short elbow and an uppercut from the clinch.
Barnett pressing Nelson against the cage. Nelson fights back, gets double underhooks and presses the "Baby-faced Assassin" against the cage with a minute left in the period.
Nelson gets the second takedown of the round and ends up in the half guard with a little over 30 seconds left. Roy peppers with punches for the last few seconds and the round ends with Barnett on his back, all tied up.
Roy hurts Barnett with an overhand but the former champ still looks solid on his feet. Barnett lands an inside-leg kick and stalks Nelson. Barnett lands a nice straight left but then eats a big right cross to the chin.
Barnett lands a knee to the head, then a right cross. He presses Nelson against the fence and tees-off with uppercuts.
Barnett presses Nelson against the fence and then lands a knee to the head. Barnett lands another short elbow, then an uppercut to the gut, and then the jaw.
Nelson's mouth guard got punched out about 30 seconds ago, I believe, but the referee doesn't appear to have realized that. He's taking all these shots without a guard, if that's the case.
Barnett doing work from the clinch, using good position and repeated nasty uppercuts and short elbows. Nelson gets free and lands a right head kick that backs Barnett up!
Barnett lands his own body kick and then lands a knee to the body from the clinch. Barnett presses Nelson against the cage and lands foot stomps.
Barnett lands another knee to the body of Nelson, but Nelson gets double underhooks again and presses Barnett against the cage. He lands knees to the head and legs of Barnett.
The ignorant ref warns Nelson that he will break them up from yet another advantageous position for the long-haired fighter.
Then, he breaks them up as Nelson is literally in the process of landing a strike combination. Once again, the artificial referee break serves to give Barnett an advantage and he presses forward with the clinch and knees.
Nelson reverses positions and works for a takedown, which Barnett defends. Nelson lands a nasty right hand and then eats a jab.
Barnett lands another uppercut to the head. Nelson shoots for a single-leg takedown.
Nelson continues to work for it as the referee warns him to do something other than fight technically and aggressively, as he is doing, for some reason. Nelson lifts Barnett up in the air but Barnett defends the takedown.
Still, Nelson holds onto Barnett, looking for the takedown, and preventing him from getting away. Once again, the referee steps in to lend a helping hand to Barnett and breaks them up.
Barnett once again takes advantage and lands some hard strikes. Nelson ends the round firing and landing a huge uppercut to the gut.
Barnett lands a huge knee strike to the head. Nelson regroups and scores another takedown but Barnett immediately reverses.
The two get back up to their feet and Barnett presses Nelson against the cage, again. Barnett lands a big knee to the cut, then several uppercuts and hooks to the head.
Barnett begins to tee-off with a 10-plus punch combination to the head and body of Nelson. Barnett lands a monster elbow to the chin.
Nelson lands his own elbow and then scores a single-leg takedown!
Barnett shoots for a leg lock but Nelson escapes and takes Barnett's back! Barnett stands, momentarily looks for a Kimura shoulder lock but then turns and faces Nelson and Nelson looks for another takedown.
Nelson has been very effective with takedowns in this fight, despite Barnett's tag-team partner, the referee, continuing to break them up as Roy works. Once again, this happens.
And, predictably, Barnett once more takes advantage of the assist from the ref and presses Nelson against the cage in the clinch he's found most of his success in, thus far.
The Japanese crowd cheers these two unbelievable warriors as the round begins. They deserve it.
Barnett lands a spinning back kick but then eats a front kick to the face. Barnett gets inside and lands nasty punches to the face.
The ref says, "keep working, gentlemen." They are, sir, in ways that you apparently have no comprehension or respect for.
Barnett unleashes with more body punches and then Nelson does the same. Nelson lands a right elbow to the head but then eats a knee to the head.
Nelson lands a left elbow, then eats a right. Barnett posts on Nelson's face and Nelson peppers him with a jab.
Nelson turns things around and presses Barnett against the cage, using good head pressure and a left underhook. Nelson lands yet another takedown!
Barnett immediately looks for a Kimura shoulder lock from the face-down, turtle position. Barnett escapes and stands up.
Nelson allows Barnett to walk him against the cage, again. Barnett has Nelson's right arm held at the rest and then lands another uppercut.
Barnett lands a big body kick, then a straight left. Roy chases him down at the close and lands several more punches.
Both men bend at the waist, exhausted, after the final horn. Amazing fight, close fight.
Official Decision: Josh Barnett wins a unanimous decision with scores of 48-47 (twice) and 50-45.
Gegard Mousasi (37-5) vs. Uriah Hall (11-5)
Mousasi wastes no time looking to close the distance. He gets a high single-leg takedown and hits it.
Mousasi passes to the side and threatens with a shoulder lock but Hall recomposes to full guard. Mousasi moves to mount.
Hall bucks him off and attempts a heel hook. Mousasi defends and moves back the full guard.
Hall locks on a Kimura shoulder lock, transitions to a straight armbar but Mousasi defends. Hall scrambles and gives up his back.
Mousasi lands a hard punch, has his hooks in and works for the rear-naked choke. Mousasi gets under Hall's chin!
Hall defends and hangs on to the end of the round.
Hall lands a spinning kick that stuns Mousasi and sends him reeling backwards! Somehow, Mousasi stays up, but then Hall follows up with a flying knee that drops him to his back.
Hall lands a bunch of punches on the ground. The referee lets the punishment go on far too long but eventually he steps in and stops it.
Uriah Hall wins by TKO
Official Decision: Hall wins by TKO at 25 seconds of the second round.
Kyoji Horiguchi (15-1) vs. Chico Camus (14-6-1)
Camus gets inside on Horiguchi after two minutes of feinting. Camus gets Horiguchi's back, standing.
The Japanese title contender gets free. Horiguchi lands a left high kick.
Camus lands a left hook and misses with the right. Horiguchi lands a left jab.
Horiguchi backs Camus up with some sharp punches. Horiguchi takes Camus' back but he gets free.
Camus ducks under a cross and trips Horiguchi. Horiguchi is right back up.
Horiguchi lands a cross and a left hook to the face. Horiguchi is bleeding from his nose and Camus from his face.
Horiguchi ends the round with a cross.
Horiguchi takes Camus' back but the American gets free. Horiguchi misses with a left elbow strike and Camus lands a punch to the head.
Camus lands a left hook. Camus gets pushed backwards with punches from the hometown fighter.
Official Decision: Horiguchi wins a unanimous decision with scores of 30-27, all-around.
Takeya Mizugaki (20-9-2) vs. George Roop 15-12-1
Mizugaki and Roop get after it from the start and exchange punches. Roop clinches up and presses Mizugaki against the cage.
Mizugaki reverses positions and presses Roop against the cage. Roop gets free and does the same.
Mizugaki gets free for a few moments and they exchange punches, once again. Roop presses forward in the clinch but Mizugaki gets free and batters him with punches.
Mizugaki hurts Roop again with punches. Roop presses for the clinch again and stays strong. Mizugaki breaks free and connects with more punches to the head.
Roop is a little wobbly but he has his wits about him and continues to charge.
Mizugaki presses Roop against the fence and then swings big and misses. Roop charges forward in and uses good head position to press Mizugaki against the cage.
Mizugaki gets free and hurts Roop badly with a left hand. Roop is bleeding from the nose.
Roop's mouth is open but he still presses Mizugaki against the cage. Mizugaki reverses position and lands a big knee to the head.
Official Decision: All three judges score the fight for Mizugaki with scores of 29-28.
Katsunori Kikuno (23-7-2) vs. Diego Brandao (23-10)
Brandao lands an overhand punch that drops Kikuno hard. Kikuno gets up, but is wobbly.
Brandao follows up with more big punches. The referee steps in and stops it.
Official Decision: Brandao wins by TKO at 28 of the first round.
Mizuto Hirota (17-7) vs. Teruto Ishihara (7-2)
Ishihara fakes the hand shake and then kicks to the body. Hirota smiles.
They get right at it. Ishihara lands the long left straight to the head. Then, while backing up, he lands a left hook to the head.
Ishihara lands another straight, and then uses that to transition to an ankle pick. Hirota lands a nasty straight to the head.
Ishihara throwing his left hand and almost lunging to his right, afterwards. Hirota gets stunned with a left but then connects with his own left hook.
Ishihara continuing to bounce and lunge around with his hands down until he throws them. He lands a big punch that drops Hirota.
Hirota is back up, quickly, but eats another left straight to the chin. Ishihara's lateral movement has helped him not be there whenever Hirota thinks about firing a punch at him.
Ishihara lands another big left punch to the head. Hirota shoots in for a takedown, gets stuffed but switches out to avoid getting stuck on the bottom.
Hirota corners Ishihara against the fence and lands a big punch combo to the face! Ishihara fires back but stays cornered.
Ishihara gets cornered but drops Hirota with yet another left punch! Hirota escapes a choke attempt on the ground but gets staggered again by another left punch.
Hirota lands a one-two punch combo to a retreating Ishihara. Then, Ishihara lands two more big left punches to the chin.
Hirota lands a flying knee to the body and then clinches Ishihara against the cage. He lets go of his left overhook and lands big punches on separation to the head.
Hirota works for a takedown and then lands a knee to the head against the cage. Great pressure from Hirota. Ishihara gets free but eats another punch to the chin.
Hirota shoots in against the cage and scores the takedown. He's taken damage but he's the aggressor, here.
Hirota works to the take the back of Ishihara, against the cage, with less than two minutes left in the round.
Hirota lands about 15 straight punches to the head of the downed Ishihara before the younger fighter slips out the back door and gets to his feet.
He lands another punch to the head of Hirota and then defends a takedown attempt. Hirota continues to pressure against the cage, looking for a takedown.
Hirota lands a nasty elbow to the head and finishes the fight throwing and landing punches.
The veteran finishes the fight stronger, after getting battered early.
Official Decision: The fight is a draw with scores of 29-28 for Ishihara, 29-28 for Hirota, and 29-29. I actually like this. Ishihara shouldn't get the fight since Hirota finished so strongly, but Hirota was hurt so badly, initially, that it would be hard to make the argument for him as well.
Keita Nakamura (14-3) vs. Li Jingliang (10-3)
Jingliang gets taken down, off the bat. Nakamura lands some good elbows from on top.
Nakamura pressing Li against the cage, Jingliang has a full guard, but it's low and he is not controlling Nakamura's posture.
Jingliang does attempt a double underhook position to attempt to control Nakamura.
The referee stands up the fight because, you know, ignorance. Li is bouncing on his toes much more but Nakamura lands a hook, and then a knee to the head.
Jingliang fires back with big punches.
Jingliang starts out nicely and lands some good head punches. He follows up with a cross that connects with the back of Nakamura's head because he ducks down.
Nakamura lands a stiff jab but is flat-footed and is getting eaten up with body shots. Jingliang lands more nasty punches and drops him with a left hand.
Jingliang lands nasty elbows on the ground from on top. The referee stands him up.
Nakamura bleeding badly but still stalking the Chinese fighter.
Nakamura presses Li against the cage. Li gets free but Nakamura shoots in for another takedown attempt.
Li sprawls nicely. Nakamura hits a wrestling switch, cuts a corner takes Li's back!
Li stands up but Nakamura gets both his hooks in, sinks the choke in! Jingliang will not tap but he goes out and falls face-first to the ground!
Nakamura with the come from behind win!
Official Decision: Nakamura wins by submission at 2:17 of the third round by rear naked choke.
Nick Hein (12-2) vs. Yusuke Kasuya (9-1)
Kasuya uses an ankle pick to trip Hein but the German pops right back up. Kasuya eats a hard right knee to the balls and goes down, hard.
The Japanese lightweight is on his back, grimacing. He gets up to five rounds.
Kasuya takes a lot of time and we don't blame him. Kasuya shoots in for a takedown.
He gets in deep but Hein sprawls nicely and defends.
Kasuya lands a nice punch combo to the head. Hein returns fire, and pretty flush.
Kasuya stalking Hein but the German counters well. Kasuya shoots for another takedown but gets it stuffed.
Kasuya throws another front kick and Hein counters with a straight left to the chin. Kasuya lands a left hook.
Hein lands a nasty uppercut, followed by a cross. Snaps Kasuya's head back.
Kasuya continues to stalk him. Hein circling nicely and using snapping leg kicks.
Kasuya scores a takedown but Hein pops up. Kasuya lands a hard body kick, flush.
Both men scream at each other good naturdedly, if that's a thing, and end the fight swinging for the fences.
Official Decision: Hein wins by unanimous decision with scores of 30 27, 29-28 (twice)
Naoyuki Kotani (33-12) vs. Kajan Johnson (20-12-1)
Kotani and Johnson both bouncing and hitting some cool angles while feinting and moving laterally from their Southpaw stances. Johnson lands a stiff right hook flush on the jaw of Kotani and it staggers him!
Kotani recovers a bit and gets back to the center of the cage. More feinting and moving to the lead side from both men.
Johnson attempts a side kick that misses. They are taking turns stalking one another, but Kotani ends the round pressuring him.
Johnson lands a straight right to the jaw that drops Kotani, hard! Kotani is still away awake but Johnson lands good ground strikes.
Kotani gets up but eats an overhand that lands to the back of the head. Kotani charges ahead with punches and shoots for a single leg takedown.
Johnson sprawls out nicely, though, cuts an angle and gets on top of a turtled-up Kotani. Johnson lands nasty punches and elbows to the head on top on the ground.
Kotani gives his back and stands up. He looks for a shoulder lock but Johnson gets free.
Kotani charges forward with punches, but misses.
Kotani charges in again with punches but then changes levels and shoots and scores with a takedown. Johnson is pressed up against the cage on his back, using his full guard.
Kotani opens up the guard, and begins raining down punches. Johson recovers the full guard and is against the cage.
Johnson shoots for a leg lock, but Kotani locks on his own foot lock. Johnson gets free and gets up.
Johnson shoots a flying knee that lands to the body.
Official Decision: Johnson wins a unanimous decision with scores of 29-28 (twice) and 30-27
Shinso Anzai (8-2) vs. Roger Zapata (4-1)
Anzai scores a takedown against the cage. Zapata stands and gets pressed against the cage.
He gets free but soon gets pressed against the fence, again. He spends the rest of the time defending.
Anzai scores another takedown, against the cage. Zapata starts his wall-walk. Zapata works for a guillotine but Anzai escapes.
The Japanese fighter spins around and takes Zapata's back but the Dominican gets up and works for a takedown against the cage.
Anzai reverses positions and ends the second the way he ended the first - pressing Zapata against the cage.
Anzai starts to score with the enside leg kick on the Southpaw. Zapata hurt his finger badly somehow.
The referee gives a time out to Zapata - which is certainly not allowed. The doctor comes in and looks at the finger and stops the fight.
In actuality, the fight should have been over the second the ref stepped in. A fighter hurts himself, bends over, turns their back, the ref can only properly step in to stop the fight at that point.
Anzai wins by TKO at 47 seconds of the third round.