Josh Barnett outworked and outstruck Roy Nelson tonight in the main event of UFC Fight Night 75 this evening, but had to go the ful five rounds to claim his victory.
The main event of the evening is underway. Barnett working the jab to start. Nelson wings a big right hand his way that doesn’t quite find the mark.
Barnett ducks under another right hand as he continues to use the jab. Suddenly a head kick attempt from Barnett and while it doesn’t land cleanly Nelson immediately opts to go for a takedown, and he lands it.
Interesting strategy from Nelson, it’s been a long time since we’ve seen him actively look to take a fight to the mat. He takes his time and gets to half guard, but the ref is soon warning him he needs to work. A few short left hands from Nelson, but it’s not enough to stop the ref from standing them up.
Barnett comes forward immediately and lands a knee. He backs Nelson up against the cage and is looking for punches and knees while Nelson looks to land some punches inside too.
They break apart momentarily and Barnett continues to push the pace and lands a big body kick as he backs Nelson to the cage again. Nelson clinches and manhandles Barnett against the cage. He’s patient and picks his moment to go for a takedown which he lands. Nice work from him.
Nelson in half guard looking to pass in the closing stages of the round, but has to settle for a few punches instead.
Right hand over the top from Nelson partially lands. Heavy combination from Nelson and Barnett is looking a little bit more tentative early in the second round.
Now Nelson starts to work forward with the jab. He lands a leg kick, but Nelson hits him with an uppercut in return. Barnett puts together a couple of punches. Nice left hand from Barnett, but soon after Nelson connects with a right.
Barnett with a knee and hard shots that seem to have Nelson hurt and he stoops for a sloppy takedown that doesn’t pay off. Barnett back pressuring him and connects with another knee. He’s roughing Nelson up against the cage.
Barnett works to the body with punches. Knee from Nelson now. Barnett stifling in the clich and then a big knee to the body. He finds a home for a couple of uppercuts. Now a right elbow lands. And another.
Finally Nelson back away out of danger. Out of nowhere Nelson lands a head kick and Barnett staggers back a bit, but then fires back with strikes of his own that land and put Nelson on the back foot. Good effort from both of these veteran heavyweights in the closing seconds of the round.
Barnett feels out with the jab and then lands an uppercut. He lands with a knee, but then Nelson clinches with double underhooks and moves his opponent against the cage.
Couple of knees to the legs from Nelson from this position as the action slows a little. Now he tries to go upstairs with the knee. Back to the leg now with several more knee strikes. Ref getting impatient though and breaks them apart.
Barnett presses forward with the jab and puts together a combination of punches with a knee before clinching. Barnett with another knee, but Nelson counters by going back to the clinch and pressing Barnett to the cage.
Barnett is able to escape the clinch and now pushes Nelson to the cage and starts to work his dirty boxing again, landing a nice uppercut.
Nelson moves away. Some very tried looking strikes from him. Barnett tries to go for a muay thai clinch in the middle of the cage, but they break away. Nelson with a combo. Now Nelson is looking for a single leg away from the cage. Barnett shows good balance and Nelson maneouvers him towards the cage. He wants this takedown and hoists Barnett up, but he does a good job of staying upright and continues to defend.
The ref breaks them again. Barnett with a big body kick to that ample target and then a knee to the head to end the round.
Barnett looks the fresher of the two fighters at this stage as we head into the fourth round. High kick attempt from Barnett and then a front kick to the body that’s almost caught by Nelson.
Barnett presses into the clinch with a few solid punches. He lands a couple of punches to the body and then knees. Nelson tries for a single and brings Barnett down. Barnett tries the reversal though and almost gets it and they go back upright. Barnett pushes Nelson to the cage and tags him with an elbow.
Knee strike from Barnett and an uppercut. He starts to unload with a series of punches and Nelson’s eating them without any real defense. Nelson bites down on his gumshield and tries to return fire. Barnett still in the ascendancy though as he land more strikes.
Nelson with a couple of strikes and charges into a single leg takedown and gets Barnett down. Barnett tries for a leg lock, but they both scramble and go back upright. Nelson initiating the clinch this time against the cage. He wants another takedown, but not much happening and the ref separates them.
Barnett stalking forward and Nelson misses with uppercuts. Combo from Barnett and into the clinch. Knee to the gut from him. A few punches and another knee as the round comes to an end.
Onto the final round of this heavyweight battle then. As usual Barnett feeling with the jab, but then changes things up with a spinning kick to the gut that lands. Now he’s piecing together a few solid strikes as he gets into the clinch. They go back and forth jockeying for position against the cage and Barnett ends up still in the dominant position and lands a knee, a few punches and another knee.
Barnett chipping away with a few uppercuts to the body and chin. Nelson with a punch in return and more comes back from Barnett.
Gruelling clinchwork here. Barnett sticks his arm oustretched to Nelson’s face for some reason and Nelson tries to lands few punches and even a kick without too much success.
Now it’s Nelson who’s got Barnett pressed to the cage and is trying for takedown. Nelson moves him around and secures a takedown. Barnett thinking about a kimura, but in the end they settle for standing.
Nelson looks very tired and Barnett goes right into the clinch again. He’s pushed the pace for the full fight. Nelson reverses the position, but then Barnett does likewise.
Into the final 45 seconds and there’s a clean break from the ref. Nelson thinks about a kick then bails out on it. Big shot to the body from Nelson. Barnett lands in response. Nelson with one last blast to the body before the final horn sounds.
Barnett really worked tirelessly in this fight and had Nelson genuinely hurt at times, though ‘Big Country’ once again proved just how difficult he is to finish varied up his offense more than we’ve seen for some time. No real doubt that Barnett was the winner here overall though, claiming a unanimous decision victory (48-47 x2, 50-45).