Barnett falls ill, canceling Bellator main event

MMA news

Josh Barnett was scheduled to make his Bellator debut in Friday’s main event in Honolulu, but the former UFC heavyweight champion fell ill and the athletic commission in Hawai’i would not clear the 42-year-old to compete. His bout with Ronny Markes was canceled.

“Today was a travesty, and you won’t find anybody more disappointed than me,” a haggard Barnett said in a video posted by the Bellator MMA account on Twitter.

Barnett (35-8) said he woke up in the middle of the night Thursday with chills, a fever, aches and pains. He took two liters of fluid and “every allowable medication to try and get me up to snuff,” to no avail.

“My kidneys feel like someone’s been hitting them for 12 rounds,” he said.

Bellator president Scott Coker said in a statement posted on the promotion’s Twitter feed: “On the advice of the Hawaii State Boxing Commission, tonight’s main event bout between Josh Barnett and Ronny Markes has been cancelled. Barnett has not been cleared tonight due to severe illness.”

Bellator 235 went ahead with a bout between bantamweights Toby Misech and Erik Perez serving as the main event. The “Salute to the Troops” show was part of a two-event weekend in Hawai’i. Bellator 236 takes place Saturday night, headlined by a women’s flyweight title bout in which Ilima-Lei Macfarlane defends her belt in her hometown against Kate Jackson.

Barnett won the UFC title in 2002 but was stripped because of a failed drug test. He also was a Pancrase openweight champion in 2003 and a finalist in both the 2006 Pride Openweight Grand Prix and the 2012 Strikeforce Heavyweight Championship Grand Prix.

He has not fought since September 2016, when he submitted fellow ex-UFC champion Andrei Arlovski in a fight in that promotion.

“I’ve never been known as one to back out of fights or to not show up,” Barnett said. “So not only is this embarrassing for me, but it’s like some sort of a weird nightmare.”

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