Josh Barnett to make Bellator debut against fellow UFC veteran Ronny Markes

Josh Barnett

Josh Barnett finally has a dance partner for his Bellator debut.

The former UFC heavyweight champion will make his debut with the Viacom-owned promotion on Friday, December 20 in Hawaii, in the main event of Bellator’s second annual Salute the Troops event. This card will be part of a weekend double-header featuring two Bellator events.

Bellator announced this news in a Wednesday press release:

“To honor the brave men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces, Bellator MMA has once again partnered with the USO to present a special live event free for the troops, along with their friends and families, on Friday, December 20. Emanating from Neal S. Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu, Hawaii, this unique show will be headlined by a heavyweight bout featuring the Bellator debuts of “The Warmaster” Josh Barnett (35-8) and Ronny Markes (19-7)…

After signing with Bellator in April, former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett will make his return to MMA competition for the first time since 2016. A second-degree Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, Barnett has remained prevalent in the combat sports realm, competing in jiu-jitsu events, promoting and performing at his own professional wrestling shows and working as a color commentator for New Japan Pro Wrestling. Barnett is no stranger to the devoted MMA fanbase in Hawaii, fighting for regional Hawaiian promotion Superbrawl in 1999 and 2000, a stint that included three fights in one night to win the Superbrawl 13 heavyweight tournament. One of the top heavyweights of all-time, the Strikeforce, Pride, UFC, K-1, NJPW, Pancrase, and Affliction mainstay owns victories over legendary stars, including Dan Severn (2x), Semmy Schilt (2x), Randy Couture, Mark Hunt, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Pedro Rizzo, Sergei Kharitonov, Frank Mir, Roy Nelson and Andrei Arlovski.

Fighting professionally since 2007, Ronny Markes will join the Bellator ranks following 26-fights all over the globe including three wins in UFC. Competing for a majority of his nearly 13-year career at middleweight, the 31-year-old will now lace up the gloves as a Bellator heavyweight. Hailing from Natal, Brazil, Markes is coming off a TKO victory in June, and will add another big-name fighter to his list of opposition, a list that includes fights against Yoel Romero, Thiago Santos, Aaron Simpson and Paulo Filho.

How do you think Josh Barnett will do in his Bellator debut this December? Are you surprised by the opponent the promotion choice for him?

This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 11/6/2019.