Josh Barnett: On his best day, Roy Nelson isn’t beating me
It’s been nearly two years since Josh Barnett last stepped into the Octagon, but in his mind he hasn’t really fought since he beat Frank Mir in his return to the UFC in August 2013.
Barnett dropped his last fight against Travis Browne after he was knocked out for only the second time in his career, but looking back now he doesn’t even recognize the person who walked into the cage that night and crumbled just one minute into the first round.
So as Barnett approaches his fight this weekend against Roy Nelson in Japan, there’s a bad taste still lingering in his mouth that he needs to wash out to erase the memories from a truly forgettable performance against Browne.
"I need to go out there and show that the shell of me that didn’t even show up to fight the last time, that’s not indicative of who I am," Barnett told FOX Sports recently.
"I’m not anywhere near the end of my career. Roy Nelson and I, on paper, could look like one thing to a group of folks but I want to go out there and show who I am as a fighter. By going out there and not just beating Roy but taking Roy out and taking him out quickly."
Nelson hasn’t exactly been at his best lately either after a rough stretch that’s seen the former “Ultimate Fighter” winner go just 1-4 over his last five fights.
His lone win came over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, who retired just one fight after the loss to Nelson last year.
I just want the best Roy Nelson to show up so I can go out there and beat him at his best. On his best day he’s not taking me out.
— Josh Barnett
Regardless of records, Barnett isn’t discounting Nelson as some walk-over because despite his recent struggles, the veteran heavyweight still has C4 packed away in his right hand and an iron chin that almost never quits.
"He’s scored a lot of knockouts, he’s put away a lot of guys who have wins over me," Barnett said. "I know Roy isn’t going to oblige in any way shape or form. The more you go out there and you hit Roy and you try to beat Roy’s brains in, he’s going to come back, drop his body weight and try to land that big overhand right."
The biggest difference Barnett foresees in the fight is how he breaks down and capitalizes on an opponent’s weaknesses and never gets drawn into a slugfest for the sake of stupidity.
He knows Nelson’s best chance to win is if he gets sloppy and allows the heavy-handed brawler to uncork a huge punch to put him away.
As long as Barnett shows up and fights smart, he doesn’t see anyway Nelson walks out of the Saitama Super Arena with a victory.
"I try to fight with a very high IQ," Barnett said. "I can say all this and I can be as confident as I want to be, but whatever happens, I just want the best Roy Nelson to show up so I can go out there and beat him at his best. On his best day, he’s not taking me out."
Winning on Saturday night isn’t enough for Barnett because he wants to add another jewel to his crown by putting Nelson away before the final horn sounds.
Barnett has traditionally been one of the best finishers in the heavyweight division with a ridiculous 84.8-percent rate for putting his opponents away, and he would like nothing more than to add Nelson’s name to his record.
Nelson has only been finished twice during his entire career and Barnett would like nothing more than to be the third person on that list.
"I don’t go out there to see a fight until the end. I go into the ring to finish," Barnett said. "I know Roy does, too. If there’s one thing I can appreciate about Roy, it’s that if he’s down to scrap, he gets in there and means it."