There’s very little about super-heavyweight prospect Chris “Huggy Bear” Barnett that is conventional.
Coming from a lifelong background in Tae Kwon Do, Barnett moved on to wrestling and later football at the University of Southern Florida before turning to MMA.
Even Barnett’s move to MMA wasn’t typical, as he faced veteran Jonathan Ivey, a fighter with over 10 years of experience going into their 2009 bout.
“My pro debut was against a guy who had like 50 or 60 fights and I ended up beating him by unanimous decision,” said Barnett. “I displayed a lot of Tae Kwon Do kicks and stuff in (the Ivey fight), and that got me on more cards because people were asking who I was.”
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Following a multi-year layoff dealing with promoter issues, Barnett returned in 2014 with the Island Fights promotion in Florida before heading to Japan to the Inoki Genome Federation. It was in Japan that Barnett would transform from a talented fighter to something more.
“You can’t just be a fighter anymore, because everybody and their mother is a fighter now,” Barnett said. “I wanted to set myself apart. Talking to my team we figured out coming out in the bear suit, stay happy-go-lucky, and do my thing.”
Following five fights with the IGF, Barnett (14-2) has moved on to RIZIN Fighting Federation, where he’ll make his promotional debut against the student of one of MMA’s greatest heavyweights in Kirill Sidelnikov (8-4) on Sunday in Nagoya, Japan.
“For me just coming in (to RIZIN) and with (Sidelnikov) being one of Fedor (Emelianenko’s) protégés, this is huge for me,” said Barnett. “Studying (Sidelnikov) and ….View full article