Barnett to Grapple in Pancrase

By Stephen Martinez Dec 14, 2007
Almost a year since he last saw action, former UFC heavyweight champion and current King of Pancrase open-weight champion Josh Barnett (Pictures) will return on Dec. 22 for the final Pancrase show of the 2007 Rising Tour.

Barnett, whose last MMA match was a decision loss to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (Pictures), joined many fighters left in limbo after Zuffa purchased PRIDE earlier this year.

Before his run with PRIDE, Barnett participated once in Pancrase. In 2003 he won the King of Pancrase open-weight belt at the promotion's tenth anniversary show after a difficult three-round battle with Yuki Kondo (Pictures) that Barnett finished late with a rear-naked choke.

For his return to action, the Pancrase committee has chosen to let Barnett sweep away his ring rust under catch-wrestling rules -- in simple terms, grappling rules -- against Pancrase eccentric resident Hikaru Sato (Pictures).

The match will be an open-weight class bout with two five-minute rounds. Open-finger gloves will not be used because striking of any kind is prohibited.

Also on the same card, Japanese female fighter Windy Tomomi (Pictures) is set to return for the first time since her accident at Bodog Fight Costa Rica on Feb. 17.

Tomomi, who had an ankle badly broken during her fight with Rosi Sexton, went through five surgeries and several months of rehabilitation in Japan before she was discharged from the hospital in June. Since then, Tomomi started back with light training and physical therapy before officially announcing her return to the ring.
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