Josh Barnett, Bobby Lashley Return To Pro Wrestling At Japanese Event

It wasn't in the Strikeforce cage, but former UFC Heavyweight Champion Josh Barnett returned to action Friday in Tokyo, Japan, competing in a pro wrestling match against former K-1 star Jerome Le Banner.

In the main event at Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2011 in front of almost 8700, Le Banner won the match by "knockout" in 8:24 but from what Wrestling Observer editor Dave Meltzer heard, Barnett may not have got out of the match unscathed.

I don't know if this is storyline or not, but they are reporting in Japan that Josh Barnett suffered a broken nose today in his pro wrestling match with Jerome LeBanner at Sumo Hall in Tokyo, where LeBanner retained the IGF world heavyweight title.

Barnett has competed on and off in wrestling, starting in New Japan Pro Wrestling in 2003. In recent years, Barnett has worked for Antonio Inoki's IGF promotion, facing former Strikeforce heavyweight and former WWE star Bobby Lashley in a match earlier this year, and famously worked a match during a Strikeforce open workout earlier this year.

Traditionally, Zuffa doesn't allow its talent to compete in other sports, recently denying Brock Lesnar the opportunity to wrestle at this year's WWE Wrestlemania. However, Barnett is still under his old Strikeforce contract and there is still no date for his Strikeforce Grand Prix tournament finale against Daniel Cormier.

The event featured Lashley and plenty of K-1 and Japanese MMA alums. Lashley teamed with three-time K-1 World Grand Prix Champion Peter Aerts to defeat Kazuyuki Fujita & Kendo Kashi. Former PRIDE star and current DREAM fighter Ikuhisa "Minowaman" Minowa also made an appearance, defeating Atsushi Sawada in an IGF vs. DREAM bout. Former PRIDE and K-1 fighter Bob Sapp was defeated by Yuichiro Nagashima.

Side note: Inoki competed in what some consider to be the first major modern MMA bout when he faced Muhammad Ali in Tokyo in 1976.

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