The UFC are headed back to Japan on September 27th for an event set to be headlined by heavyweights Roy Nelson and Josh Barnett.
The event will be the finale for a new reality TV show aimed at the Japanese market titled, ‘Road To UFC: Japan’ with Nelson and Barnett serving as coaches.
It sounds like a spin-off from The Ultimate Fighter format that’s better suited to this market, following eight Japanese fighters as they compete against each other to win a contraact with the UFC.
Unlike TUF, ‘Road To UFC’ won’t see the fighter sharing a house together, and filming (which begins later this month) will be split between Las Vegas and Japan.
Nelson is no stranger to the reality TV format having won season 10 of TUF back in 2009 and then having coached season 16 opposite Shane Carwin in 2012.
Meanwhile, in the Octagon the 38 year-old has been having a tough time of late, claiming just one victory in his last five fights. He headlined a UFC Fight Night card in Japan in September of last year, suffering a knockout loss against Mark Hunt.
As for Barnett, this will be his first stint as a coach on reality TV, but he’s a natural choice for the role given that he’s generally very assured in front of the camera and has a strong connection to Japan having fought their for many years in the likes of Pancrase, PRIDE, Sengoku and DREAM, competed in pro-wrestling events there and even coached popular female Japanese fighter Megumi Fujii.
The 37 year-old hasn’t competed in MMA since a two-fight stint in the UFC back in 2013 where he posted a quick first round TKO victory over Frank Mir and then a similarly swift KO loss to Travis Browne.
He has made a few appearance in the Metamoris grappling events though, defeating Dean Lister by submission at Metamoris 4 last year and then also tapping out Ryron Gracie at Metamoris 6 this past weekend.