Bellator CEO Scott Coker announced Wednesday that heavyweight Josh Barnett will make his long anticipated promotional debut against Ronny Markes at Bellator: Salute the Troops.
At long last, Josh Barnett has his Bellator MMA debut set. The former UFC heavyweight champion has been booked to headline this year’s Salute the Troops show, which will take place in Honolulu a day prior to Bellator: Hawaii. He’ll take on another promotional newcomer, Ronny Markes, who signed on with the organization earlier this year.
— Scott Coker (@ScottCoker) November 6, 2019
Barnett (35–8), now 41 years old, has not competed since 2016, when he defeated Andrei Arlovski in the UFC. After being entangled in a drug test fiasco with USADA, he was cleared of any intentional wrongdoing and let off with what amounted to a warning when a tainted supplement was uncovered. Barnett, who had a history of drug testing issues at that point, had begun cataloging and collecting samples of his supplements, leading an arbitrator in his USADA case to state “I have never heard testimony from an individual who has taken so much care to record his supplement regime in order to avoid the very problem he is now experiencing.”
Sadly, the ordeal dragged on for the better part of two years. After being granted his release from the UFC, Barnett signed on with Bellator this past April, and has been waiting for his debut date since.
Ronny Markes (19–7), another UFC alum, fought in that promotion at middleweight, but has competed as high up as super heavyweight over the years. Most recently, he was competing in the PFL, but missed weight for a light heavyweight bout during this year’s regular season.
Bellator: Salute the Troops will take place December 20, 2019 at the Neal S. Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu, Hawaii.