Josh Barnett will now be facing fellow UFC veteran Phil De Fries in a grappling match at XTB KSW Epic on February 24th, 2024. It might seem like an unusual choice for an MMA promotion but KSW are attempting to do something a little different with this particular event. The idea is to celebrate their twentieth anniversary by putting together a card that features a number of different rulesets, paying homage to the earliest days of MMA. There’s a four-man light-heavyweight tournament to crown their next champion and a main event boxing match between MMA veteran Mamed Khalidov and former light-heavyweight boxing world champion Tomasz Adamek.
While that might seem unusual enough, KSW really is pulling out all of the stops for this event. The opening fight is going to be a completely no holds barred matchup and the next one after that will be a Muay Thai fight where they will be using MMA gloves. The final fight on the card is probably the most unusual of them all though, as a Judo black belt and a BJJ black belt will be competing in an MMA fight wearing gis. The event was already looking like something that might have happened back in the 90s in Japan, but this latest addition only adds to that chaotic feeling.
Josh Barnett is a former UFC heavyweight world champion and the first King of Pancrase, but he’s been retired from MMA for many years now. He was also a high-level submission grappler during his prime too, and he’s stayed pretty active in that sport even in retirement from MMA. As a recent catch wrestling world champion Josh Barnett will still be an incredibly tough opponent for Phil De Fries, who has pulled off plenty of submission finishes throughout his professional MMA career.
KSW announced the news that Josh Barnett and Phil De Fries would meet in a grappling match at XTB KSW Epic in a recent post to their official Instagram account: