Josh Barnett has a special type of charisma. He was on point tonight, defeating Roy Nelson by unanimous decision in the main event of UFC Fight Night: Barnett vs. Nelson. But he arguably put in his best work after the fight, speaking Japanese to the crowd and giving Nelson props for being as tough as he is. Nelson, who scored some surprising takedowns and connected with a lot of shots, put forth a commendable effort despite not having the best gas tank. I thought it was very classy of Barnett to acknowledge Big Country in the aftermath.
As for the fight itself, it was better than I expected. Normally when you describe a fight as a war of attrition in the clinch, the first word that comes through a fight fan's mind is "boring". But it wasn't. Barnett used a bunch of different tools in his attack, and Nelson took it all while responding with his own offense and threatening with takedowns. In the end Barnett was the much more active fighter overall and the decision isn't controversial, but watching two heavyweight go 25 minutes was actually entertaining for once.
There was one bad part of the fight though - the referee. He didn't seem to want to give Barnett much time to work against the cage even though he was staying active, and he cut short a few Nelson takedown attempts. He also looked like Colin Quinn, who I can't stand, but that's not really important right now.
Uriah Hall pulled off the shocker of the night with his amazing knockout win over Gegard Mousasi in the co-main event. Mousasi totally dominated the first round with his impressive grappling, and it looked very much like Hall was going to lose. But Mousasi ducked right into a spinning kick from Hall early in the second, and he followed it up with a picture-perfect flying knee that put Mousasi down.
- Will this be the breakthrough win that gets Hall into the conversation as a contender? Call me pessimistic, but I don't think so. It honestly seemed like a fluke more than anything. I might be saying that because I'm a Mousasi fan, but I really think Gegard beats him 95 times out of 100. The MMA gods are a fickle bunch though, and tonight was Hall's night.
- Kyoji Horiguchi is a lot of fun to watch. His movement, power, and instincts are elite at flyweight, and he used all of them to take a decision over a game Chico Camus. Camus has been stuck facing some very tough opponents in his last two bouts, and he showed a fair amount in both fights, but this was Horiguchi's night to shine.
- Takeya Mizugaki couldn't have asked for a better fight. The shorter wrestler was likely looking to get a hold of Roop, but he didn't even have to try - Roop somehow decided that clinching with him was a good course of action. When you have a 364 inch reach advantage, why in the world would you want to fight in close? Roop wins the Ed Herman award for worst fight IQ of the night, and Mizugaki got a relatively easy decision win.
- Roop looks really weird at bantamweight. This isn't a secret or anything, but...he just looks really weird.
- Mizuto Hirota and Teruto Ishihara both got six-figure contracts in one of the stranger endings you'll see. Fights going to a draw are uncommon to be sure, but there was no contingency plan for this? Why wasn't there a round four? You'd think the UFC would have learned their lesson after the first Demetrious Johnson vs. Ian McCall fight, but I guess not. I wanted to see a fourth round too - the first three were a lot of fun.
- Keita Nakamura and Li Jingliang had one of the better bouts I've seen in a while. That might be giving it too much praise, but I've always been a K-Taro fan and I love back-and-forth fights. Nakamura grappled his way through the first, but was absolutely lit up by Jingliang in the second. I actually called him K-Target on Twitter because he was getting his ass kicked so bad. That continued in the third, until his crafty grappling came to the forefront once again. That back take was utterly beautiful, and locking up the choke just as fast was so cool. One of my favorite comebacks of the year, and it might not have even been the best one on the card.
- Jingliang not tapping and falling flat on his face with Nakamura on top of him was a) scary; and b) an awesome visual.
- Nick Hein sure kicked Yusuke Kasuya in the balls really hard. That's all I have to say about that fight.
Kajan Johnson really should have finished Naoyuki Kotani in the second round of a fight he was dominating, but he didn't. And in my eyes, most of the impressiveness of his performance was taken away by Kotani taking the third round from him. It was a decent fight, nothing more.
- In the opening bout of the night, Shinsho Anzai used a solid wrestling base to mostly control Roger Zapata for the first two rounds. Early in the third, Zapata jammed his finger and either broke or dislocated it, leaving him in considerable pain. After a bit of confusion, the ref waved off the fight and gave the TKO win to the local fighter.