Top ranked MMA heavyweight Josh Barnett will take on Pedro Rizzo in a long awaited rematch that dates all the way back to UFC 30. The bout was confirmed directly by Rizzo through Sherdog.com.
The match is set for July 19th at Affliction’s inaugural MMA show, now slated to take place at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. The event will feature former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia taking on top-ranked heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko in the evening’s main event.
Josh Barnett is one of the best heavyweights competing in MMA today, and is arguably one of the finest grapplers to ever grace the sport. He holds notable wins over Yuki Kondo, Semmy Schilt, Aleksander Emelianenko, Mark Hunt, Hidehiko Yoshida, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Randy Couture.
Once a rising star in the UFC, “The Babyface Assassin” Josh Barnett stepped away from the promotion in 2002 due to controversy over a failed drug test following his defeat over then-heavyweight champion, Randy Couture. Barnett has since competed primarily in Japan, where he is also a well known professional wrestler.
Pedro Rizzo is an excellent striker who’s career is highlighted by a second round knock out over Josh Barnett at UFC 30 in 2001. Rizzo also holds victories over Vernon White, Mark Coleman, Dan Severn, Andrei Arlovski, Ricco Rodriguez and most recently, Jeff Monson. Despite pockets of success while in the UFC, Rizzo was never able to capture the heavyweight strap, losing title matches to both Kevin Randleman and Randy Couture (twice).
Rizzo, who’s career has been hot and cold to say the least, feels that this rematch could help him become a big name in MMA once again:
“I knew about this fight for some time, but was hoping to disclose it…I was hoping to face him due to the fact that he is one of the top five heavyweights, a very tough guy. This is my chance to return to the top, and I will seize it the best way…I was training all the time and relaxed last week. This Monday I came back, and now there are 11 weeks to the fight. I think it’s the perfect time to get well technically, get in order and make a great fight. Our fight was seven years ago and was very good. Today Josh is a much better fighter than at that time, as am I. I think the public can expect a big fight again.”
Before he reunites with Pedro Rizzo, Josh Barnett will face fellow submission wrestler Jeff Monson on May 18, at World Victory Road’s “Sengoku 2.” Barnett also reflected on his first meeting with Rizzo, and manages to slip a Fedor jab in there as well:
“I said after he knocked me out with one of those really nice, well put together Pedro Rizzo right hands, I stood right there for the challenge and said you know what, Iâ€™m going to come back here, Iâ€™m going to fight him again and next time Iâ€™m knocking his ass out. So Iâ€™ve got to make good on my promises and Iâ€™ve got to stick to my word….As much as I love my buddy Fedor, itâ€™s going to suck for him because Iâ€™m stealing the show.â€
Being an old school UFC diehard, Barnett vs. Rizzo II definitely sweetens the pot that is the troubled, though promising, Affliction card.
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