Chris Barnett is one of MMA’s most likeable athletes and shot to MMA stardom following his incredible spinning wheel-kick knockout of Gian Villante. True to form, Barnett used the spotlight after this victory to pay tribute to the retiring Villante. A perfect example of why Barnett is so well-liked.
The platform was set for Barnett to put together back-to-back victories in the UFC. In April 2022, he was matched up with Martin Buday but dropped a technical decision loss. However, Barnett’s biggest fight was actually happening outside the cage. His fiancé and the mother of his children were battling severe illness in the lead-up to this fight. Thirty hours prior to the fight, Barnett received a call “to make a decision”. This marked a sharp turn in her condition from the time Barnett left for fight week. She sadly passed away several weeks later.
Barnett spoke about dealing with this personal tragedy which impacted his mindset in the Buday fight, the support he received from the UFC during that time, and his new mindset going into his matchup with fellow “dad-bod” Jake Collier at UFC 279.
Barnett’s focus was anywhere but fight week in the lead-up to his bout with Buday. He was constantly checking on the status of his fiancé and making sure that his children had everything they needed. This made a performance in the cage an impossible task.
Chris also spoke about the catch-22 he found himself in, especially after Dana White asked him why did you even (fight). His response sheds some insight into the dilemma that fighters can often face:
“You got this great opportunity to be in the UFC, and you don’t want to blow it, but you kinda blow it (by fighting and not performing)…You want to be a… superhero, but the world came crashing down”.
Now Barnett is looking forward to giving back to those who have supported him through the most difficult time in his life. He will look to do that with a career-best performance against Jake Collier.
Barnett also gave his thoughts on the main event between Cyril Gane and Tai Tuivasa at UFC Paris this weekend. Tai Tuivasa being a 5-1 underdog was a real surprise:
“They counting Bam Bam out like man?! After what he did to Derrick Lewis?!”
Sound off in the comments with your pick for this weekend’s main event, and tune into the full interview for Combat Sports UK with James Lynch (@LynchOnSports) to see who Barnett thinks will get the win:
Chris Barnett Interview
Featured image credits to Embed from Getty Images