by Ivan Trembow – MMAWeekly.com
Josh Barnett and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira will face off at Pride Shockwave 2006 on December 31st in a rematch of their hotly contested fight from earlier this year, according to Tatame’s web site and Nogueira’s own statements in a a Brazilian newspaper

The Barnett-Nogueira rematch was first reported by Tatame, and since then Nogueira has written the following in his latest column in the Brazilian newspaper Jornal dos Sports (roughly translated from Portuguese to English):

“My adversary for the next Pride event, on the 31st of December, will be the American Josh Barnett, and revenge will be mine in my last fight of the year. Shortly after [Nogueira’s first fight with Barnett], I made it clear to Pride management that although I respect the judges decision, I would like a revenge match, since I didn’t feel the decision being given to Barnett by 2 to 1 was just. I am motivated and focused for this fight and am certain I will put in a good performance. Barnett is a great fighter and has shown how he is dangerous on the ground. In a fight at this level, anything can happen, but I am quite confident I can beat him.”

Barnett and Nogueira previously fought in the quarter-finals of the Pride Open Weight Grand Prix on September 10th. After a Fight of the Year candidate with world-class submission grappling that you’re rarely going to see in the heavyweight division or any other weight class, the extremely close fight went to the judges for a decision.

One of the judges gave the fight to Nogueira, while the other two judges gave it to Barnett, thus making Barnett the winner by split decision. Later that night in the Finals of the Pride Open Weight Grand Prix, Mirko Cro Cop defeated Barnett by submission to become the 2006 Pride Open Weight Grand Prix Champion.

Barnett is currently the #3 Heavyweight in the MMAWeekly Rankings, behind only Fedor Emelianenko and Cro Cop, while Nogueira is the #4 Heavyweight.

The Barnett-Nogueira rematch has not been officially announced by Pride, and there’s always a slight chance that Pride could change its plans at the last minute even after informing the fighters that they’re going to be fighting a particular opponent, but as of now the highly anticipated rematch is set to take place at the Pride Shockwave show on December 31st. The show premieres on United States pay-per-view outlets on December 31st at 9:00 PM Eastern Time (6:00 PM Pacific Time).