Josh Barnett books Bellator debut as headliner for 'Salute The Troops' event in Hawaii

More than seven months after signing a contract with Bellator, former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett finally has a fight.

Barnett (35-8 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) will debut against Brazilian Ronny Markes (19-7 MMA, 0-0 BMMA), also making his promotional debut, it was announced Wednesday.

The fight will serve as the headliner of a “Salute The Troops” event Dec. 20 at Neal S. Blaisdell Center in Honolulu. The card will air live on Paramount after prelims on MMA Junkie as part of a doubleheader weekend, with Bellator Hawaii taking place the next night.

Barnett, 41, hasn’t competed in MMA in over three years. His last bout came against Andrei Arlovski at UFC Fight Night 93 in September 2016. One of the pioneers of the modern heavyweight division, “The Warmaster” has been a professional since 1997.

At UFC 36 in March 2002, Barnett defeated then-champion Randy Couture by second-round TKO to earn the promotion’s heavyweight strap. His next UFC fight wouldn’t come until UFC 164 in August 2013. In the meantime, Barnett competed for numerous notable promotions around the world, including PRIDE, K-1, Strikeforce, and more.

His opponent, Markes, also is a UFC veteran. The 31-year-old Markes competed five times in the UFC from 2011-2014, but did so at middleweight. He compiled a 3-2 UFC record before he joined World Series of Fighting in August 2014.

In 2018, Markes competed in the inaugural season of PFL but didn’t make it to the postseason. In June, Markes competed in the PFL 2019. However, he was able to compete only once in the regular season and didn’t accumulate enough points for a postseason birth.

Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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