The Ultimate Fighting Championship announced early, early this Thursday that it would return to Japan on September 26th. The main event? Roy Nelson versus Josh Barnett in a five-round heavyweight bout. More interestingly, both fighters will also serve as coaches for a new reality show from the UFC, one titled Road to the UFC: Japan, in which eight Japanese fighters will fight for a contract with the world’s number one mixed martial arts promotion.
Currently in fifth place of the heavyweight rankings, Barnett hasn’t fought in the Octagon since December of 2013, when Travis Browne dispatched him with some fire elbows. The Warmaster comes into the fight with 33 wins and 7 losses.
Big Country Nelson, on the other hand, holds the 11th position in the rankings, and comes into the fight on the back of two back-to-back losses, to Alistair Overeem and Mark Hunt. He’s lost four of his last five fights, and comes in with a record of 20 wins and 22 losses.
Ken Berger, the UFC’s general manager in Asia, announced the news at “Media Day” for this Saturday’s upcoming Frankie Edgar vs. Urijah Faber Manila card.
Happy to bring back the Octagon to the Saitama Super Arena, Berger explained that the UFC sees Japan’s rich and diverse MMA talent, and that Road to the UFC will help the company discover new perspectives.
Shooting for the show should begin this month in Las Vegas and in Japan. Unlike the UFC’s previous reality show, The Ultimate Fighter, participating fighters will not live under the same roof during shooting. The reality show will air in Japan in September.
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