Fighting in Japan for the first time since 2010, former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett secured a grueling five-round win over Roy Nelson.

Barnett defeated Nelson via unanimous decision on Sunday morning, landing 212 strikes to Nelson’s 101. The five-round bout headlined UFC Fight Night at Saitama Super Arena.

It was a homecoming of sorts for Barnett, who has fought 17 of his professional fights in Japan.

Speaking at the post-fight press conference, Barnett heaped praise on his opponent.

“It’s not about belts, it’s about the way people fight and Roy Nelson fights like he means it. He’s a warrior and he’s the kind of people we need in the UFC. That’s what people want to see fight and that’s why I wanted to fight Roy and that’s why I gave everything I could, he took it and came back.”

His win capped off a thrilling return for UFC in Japan, where Uriah Hall secured a highlight reel win against Gegard Mousasi, landing a precision spinning back kick and flying knee combination to secure a victory.

Japanese favorite Kyoji Horiguchi left it to the judges for his unanimous decision win against Chico Camus, but was unable to get the KO he was seeking.

“I was craving to win this fight, I really wanted it badly,” Horiguchi said.

“I put a lot of time into preparing myself for this fight. Although a KO win would have been more sufficient, I’m definitely happy that I was able to prevail.”

Brazilian Diego Brandao won in decisive fashion, earning a TKO victory 28 seconds into the first round against Katsunori Kikuno while Keita Nakamura secured a devastating rear naked choke to drop China’s Li Jingliang 2:17 into the third round.

But Nakamura admitted he could have fought better.

“I’m not really happy with how I fought but certainly content with the outcome. It was a great experience nonetheless. There’s a lot of room to improve though. I just want to relax and soak this in right now.”

Li, who looked to have the upper hand early in the fight, now moves to 10 wins and 4 losses.

“I was trying to fight him him step by step,” Li said. I should have finished when he was on the ground but I tried to change position and made a mistake.”

UFC Fight Night Japan also included the finale of Road to UFC: Japan, but a clear winner did not emerge after the fight was declared a draw.

UFC announced performance bonuses would be served to Josh Barnett, Uriah Hall, Diego Brandao and Keita Nakamura.


Josh Barnett defeats Roy Nelson
Unanimous Decision

Uriah Hall defeats Gegard Mousasi
TKO (Flying Knee and Punches) 25 seconds of round 2

Kyoji Horiguchi defeats Chico Camus
Unanimous Decision

Takeya Mizugaki defeats George Roop
Unanimous Decision

Diego Brandao defeats Katsunori Kikuno
TKO (Punches) 28 seconds of round 1

Mizuto Hirota vs Teruto Ishihara
Draw (Split)

Keita Nakamura defeats Li Jingliang
Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) 2:17 of round 3

Nick Hein defeats Yusuke Kasuya
Unanimous Decision

Kajan Johnson defeats Naoyuki Kotani
Unanimous Decision

Shinsho Anzai defeats Roger Zapata
TKO (Hand Injury) 0:47 of round 3