Josh BarnettJosh Barnett has confirmed a rumored match against Pedro Rizzo for the upcoming Affliction event, ‘Banned,’ through MMAWeekly Radio. This will not be these fighters’ first encounter. In 2001, Barnett and Rizzo faced off at UFC 30, a match in which Rizzo got the better of Barnett by knocking him out in the second round.

Barnett hasn’t let that memory fade and maintains he still owes Rizzo one:

“I said after he knocked me out with one of those really nice, well put together Pedro Rizzo right hands, I stood right there for the challenge and said you know what, I’m going to come back here, I’m going to fight him again and next time I’m knocking his ass out. So I’ve got to make good on my promises and I’ve got to stick to my word.”

A Barnett/Rizzo rematch adds a decent match to a card that will feature Fedor Emelianenko vs. Tim Sylvia in the main event and Matt Lindland as a confirmed participant in a middleweight bout. Barnett is widely considered a top-ten—and in some cases top-five—heavyweight. His inactivity in 2007 might have hurt his standing in the rankings but he’s come back strong in 2008 with a win over Hidehiko Yoshida, a fight with Jeff Monson at Sengoku II on May 18, and now this fight on July 19. Rizzo, on the other hand, has faded from his glory days in the pre-Zuffa UFC. In addition to Barnett, Rizzo holds victories over Andrei Arlovski, Tank Abbott, Mark Coleman, Jeff Monson, Dan Severn and Ricco Rodriguez. This fight alone isn’t considered a blockbuster by any means, but serves as a solid addition to what could be the biggest card of the summer.

Barnett and Rizzo were on the list of rumored participants of the Affliction ‘Banned’ card so it appears those rumors, or at least this one, had some veracity. Andre Arlovski, Ben Rothwell and Renato ‘Babalu’ Sobral are three big names still floating out there without any confirmation, although Arlovski is believed to be free of any obligations to the UFC at this point. Could ‘Pitbull’ news be coming soon?

This is all contingent, of course, on Affliction’s ability to pull off the card. My skepticism is high since the HDNet deal fell apart, but this latest development is positive, so maybe there’s hope yet. I’m keeping my fingers crossed just in case.

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