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UFC Japan results: Josh Barnett returns to best Roy Nelson in complete, five-round performance

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Josh Barnett had quite the return -- to Japan and the Octagon.

In his first fight in 21 months, "The War Master" put together a complete performance in a unanimous decision victory (50-45, 48-47, 48-47) over Roy Nelson in the main event of UFC Fight Night 75 on Saturday night at Saitama Super Arena.

Barnett (34-7) used the clinch against the cage to beat up Nelson throughout. The former PRIDE star landed knee after knee to Nelson's midsection and also crushed "Big Country" with multiple elbows to the head and left kicks to his prodigious gut. The first and fifth rounds were the closest, but Barnett came close to a shutout -- and it was that on one of the scorecards.

Afterward, Barnett addressed the crowd in Japanese. He has trained and fought in the country for years was beloved at Saitama during his time with PRIDE. Barnett and Nelson coached against each other on the Road to Japan reality series this fall on UFC Fight Pass.

Barnett, 37, had not fought since losing to Travis Browne at UFC 168 in December 2013. He has been busy doing multiple things outside the cage, from movies to podcasts to a very successful run as the color commentator for New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. But the man once known as "The Baby-faced Assassin" -- and former UFC champion -- made his name in MMA and he cemented himself as one of the great heavyweights of all time again Saturday night.

Nelson (20-12) landed a big head kick in the second round and showed off, as usual, a granite chin and incredible will. But it was not enough. Nelson, 39, has now lost three straight and five of his last six. Yet, there are very few fans out there who would not want to see the crowd favorite again and again.

In perhaps the biggest upset of the year, Uriah Hall finished Gegard Mousasi via TKO at 25 seconds of the second round -- with a video-game spinning kick, flying knee combo. Mousasi had never been finished by strikes in his career.

Mousasi, a more than 4-to-1 favorite, dominated Hall in the first round, putting him on his back and running a grappling clinic. A victory seemed to be a foregone conclusion. But then Hall let loose with a picture-perfect spinning kick early in the second round. It landed to Mousasi's face and Hall followed up with a jumping knee to Mousasi's jaw. The former Strikeforce champion fell back and Hall finished things with punches on the ground.

It was by far the biggest win of Hall's career. The former Ultimate Fighter runner-up has not achieved his potential inside the Octagon, but maybe this is the start of that run.

Hall (12-5) has now won two in a row after finishing Oluwale Bambgose last month. He wasn't even supposed to be in this fight. Roan Carneiro was the original opponent for Mousasi before he had to withdraw due to injury. Mousasi (37-5-2), a top-10 talent at middleweight for a long time, had won two straight over Dan Henderson and Costas Philippou.

If it wasn't already a sure thing, Kyoji Horiguchi cemented himself as one of the top flyweights in the world with a unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) win over Chico Camus. The Japan native was coming off a lopsided loss to champion Demetrious Johnson, but his performance Saturday night confirmed that it was more the excellence of "Mighty Mouse" than Horiguchi's lack of ability.

Horiguchi nearly finished Camus in the second round and came on strong again in the third. His combinations were precise and his speed was hard to handle throughout. Horiguchi (16-2) has won 10 of his last 11 fights and another title shot could very well be on the horizon in the future given that he's only 24 years old. Camus (14-7, 1 NC) has now lost two straight and three of his last four.

Takeya Mizugaki continues to be a model for consistency. After losing two straight for the first time since 2007, Mizugaki got back to his winning ways with a unanimous decision over George Roop. Afterward, the Japanese fighter broke down during his interview with Anik. It was an important bounce-back win for his career.

Mizugaki (21-9-2) had won five straight before falling to Aljamain Sterling and Dominick Cruz. Still just 31 years old, the former WEC competitor has been a top bantamweight for about six years. Roop (15-12-1) has now lost two straight.

Diego Brandao made short work of Katsunori Kikuno, starting a fight with a barrage of punches and knees that resulted in a TKO in just 28 seconds. Brandao (20-10) has now won two in a row via first-round stoppage. Kikuno (23-7-2) has lost two straight in the same manner.

Road to Japan finalists Mizuto Hirota and Teruto Ishihara both made a case for being in the UFC. And, well, there might not be a better option since they fought to a split draw (29-28, 28-29, 29-29) in the main card opener. Ishihara won the first round, Hitora won the second and third was a tossup with both guys getting their licks in.

UFC president Dana White tweeted there should have been a fourth round to decide a Road to Japan winner, much like the rules for The Ultimate Fighter. But that didn't happen, so the draw will stand.

On the prelims, Keita Nakamura came from behind to defeat Li Jingliang with a rear-naked choke submission in the third round. Jingliang was piecing Nakamura up in the second and third rounds before Nakamura found his back in a scramble and caught a hold of his neck. Jingliang faceplanted and the refereed waved off the action in the most dramatic visual of the night.

Also on the preliminary portion of the card, Nick Hein beat Yusuke Kasuya, Kajan Johnson defeated Naoyuki Kotani by unanimous and Shinso Anzai beat Roger Zapata, all by unanimous decision.

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