Johnson was scheduled to fight Yoel Romero in a battle of veteran UFC sluggers, but Romero was not medically cleared to compete at the event on May 7 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. Bellator 258 airs on Showtime. ESPN.com first reported the news, and two people with knowledge of the rebooking confirmed the news to MMAFighting.com.
The Johnson vs. Barros bout will serve as part of the light heavyweight tournament, with the winner advancing to meet current champ Vadim Nemkov, who defended his title and made it to the semifinals with a win over Phil Davis at Bellator 257. Designated tourney alternate Julius Anglickas was unavailable for the May 7 date, ESPN.com reported.
It’s unclear at the moment whether Bellator will rebook Johnson vs. Romero for a later date, and whether Romero will keep his spot in the grand prix, according to one source. Johnson returns to the cage four years after a second failed bid for the vacant UFC light heavyweight title against Daniel Cormier.
Barros, whose full name is Jose Augusto Azevedo Barros, is a member of the Pitbull Brothers MMA team, makes a quick turnaround after a first-round submission of Jonathan Wilson at Bellator 255. He has won his past four bouts.
The winner of the light heavyweight grand prix earns a $1 million payout. The competition is considered to be among the most dense assortments of 205-pound talents in MMA.