Insight: get to know Chris Barnett
Taekwondo black belt B-boy in a teddy bear suit?! “Huggy Bear” Chris Barnett puts the fun into fighting.
Chris “Huggy Bear” Barnett (15-3, Barnett Taekwondo Academy) will face Myung Hyun-Man at Xiaomi ROAD FC 038 on April 15, 2017. Ahead of the match, he shared his Taekwondo background, his positive message, and what it means to fight much taller opponents regularly.
The American heavyweight is a rare ray of bubbling sunshine in what can be the harsh and intense environment of MMA. “Beast Boy”, or “Huggy Bear” as he's most recently come to be known, walks out to extremely happy music in a great big teddy bear suit. It seems very out of place, but Barnett aims to break the stereotype of the fighter to his fans, family, and friends.
“I've got a boy and a girl, and they know I fight and they love it. But my mom still won't watch my fights. So I want to break the stereotype of the fighter. That's why I dance on the way out to the cage. I want everybody to have fun.”
Barnett's children may not be ready for the cage quite yet, but they do have a head start already. Aside from recently being Alistair Overeem's training partner, Huggy Bear runs his own martial arts school, the Barnett Taekwondo Academy. And he comes from a long line of Taekwondo black belts in his family.
“I use lots of different styles, but I will always go back to Taekwondo. I started when I was just 4 years old. And now, my little girl is taking Taekwondo!”
For a heavyweight fighter, Taekwondo isn't exactly a base you would think of as natural. However, Barnett has shown a lot of success with it. He's been one of the most athletic heavyweights ever seen (just check out one of his B-boy videos here!), and always brings his A-game. Barnett has a 90% knockout rate!
“My base is Taekwondo and also wrestling, but even now, my favorite techniques are still all kinds of spinning attacks. Tornado kicks, backfists, you name it, I'll throw it.”
Barnett has shown people that his wrestling is top notch as well, he's got great balance and uses his low center and massive frame to smother his opponents. He has never been finished, not on the ground and not standing.
In the beginning of his MMA career, he knocked out Johnathan Ivey and Kenny Garner, and retired Mario Rinaldi. Later, he continued with big KOs over Travis Wiuff and Emil Zahariev – both in IGF – which made him an instant hit in Japan. Barnett faced famous prowrestler Shinichi Suzukawa and beat him twice, went the distance against one of Europe's best heavyweights Oli Thompson, and lost a contentious split decision versus Kirill Sidelnikov in the first Rizin.
Barnett's surprise when people see him fight live, is that he is not a tall heavyweight. At just 5'9”, he tweeted once before weigh ins, “I'm the tallest width wise!” Since he's stood up to the usually towering men in his division, he's proved that nothing will break his confidence. Not even his next opponent, Myung Hyun-Man, a Muay Thai fighter who is 6'3”.
“Sure he's tall, but everybody I fight is tall. I just hope he has a good and healthy camp. I can't wait to put on a show!”
And a show is what the fans are going to get at ROAD FC 038. From his hilarious and mood lightening entrance, to his all-out style in the cage, fans are definitely in for a treat when Huggy Bear makes his next performance. Perhaps there will be another career in front of a camera for the entertaining heavyweight in the future?
“I would like to act one day. But right now I want to fight. I'll fight anybody. Since my first fight, I was set up to lose, against a guy with over 80 fights. Guess what, I won, and I keep on winning. It means everything that my fans keep supporting me!”
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