Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight champion Josh Barnett (34-7) spent all of 2014 away from the Octagon. His last bout before UFC Fight Night 75 ended badly for “The Warmaster” as he was knocked out by Travis Browne in one minute. If Barnett wanted to return to form, he had to make a statement against Roy Nelson (20-12), who was looking to avoid a three-fight losing streak.
“The Warmaster” is back in the win column, but getting there wasn’t easy.
Round one began and Barnett looked to get his jab going. He went high with a kick, but Nelson got a takedown. “The Warmaster” received numerous warnings for grabbing the fence as “Big Country” was warned to press the action or the fight would be stood up. The break came and they were back at the center of the Octagon. Barnett connected with knees to the body followed by an uppercut in the clinch. Barnett chopped the body with a kick. Nelson earned another takedown and stood in top control without doing much damage.
The second stanza got going and Nelson threw his overhand right and put together a combination. Nelson countered a leg kick with an uppercut. Barnett timed a knee to the body. Blood began trickling from the nose of Barnett. Nelson hit Barnett with a straight punch, but “The Warmaster” answered with a series of punches and knees that had “Big Country” backing up. With Barnett controlling Nelson against the fence, he kept throwing knees from the muay thai clinch. Nelson threw a head kick that was partially blocked. The round ended with Barnett landing another knee to the body.
Round three got started to the delight of the crowd. Barnett connected with an uppercut, but the resilient “Big Country” secured a body lock and pressed his opponent against the cage. The clinch game was broken up and Barnett landed a combination. “The Warmaster” snuck in an uppercut while in the clinch. Both men looked tired, but didn’t stop pushing the pace. A thudding body kick landed for Barnett at the end of the round.
Nelson caught an upkick at the start of the fourth frame, but Barnett popped him with a jab. “Big Country” looked to get a takedown, but Barnett reversed the position and returned to Octagon control in the clinch. Barnett threw multiple unanswered shots at Nelson, who eventually returned fire. A nice knee to the jaw and a elbow landed for Barnett. Nelson earned a takedown, but Barnett rolled for a leg lock. Nelson eventually brought Barnett back to the cage. Despite Nelson’s short bursts of top control, Barnett’s offense was still far superior.
Believe it or not, the fight did indeed go to the fifth round. Barnett got in a spinning back kick to the body. Nelson returned the favor with a hard body kick. They were back to the grueling clinch work they’d been engaged with since the fight started. Nelson eventually secured a takedown with Barnett fishing for a kimura. They returned to the feet and Barnett landed a knee to the solar plexus that made Nelson wince. As the fight came to a close, the fans showed their appreciation.
Final Result: Josh Barnett def. Roy Nelson via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 50-45)