7-0 as an amateur, 1-0 as a professional, heavyweight prospect Chris Barnett will look to keep his undefeated MMA record in tact this weekend as he goes up against Daniel Perez at “XFC 9: Evolution” at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Fla. The event will air live on HDNet Sat., Sept. 5, beginning at 9:00 p.m. ET.
Not many fighters get the opportunity to have their pro debut broadcast live on national TV, but then again there are not too many 265 lbs., back-flipping, break-dancing, martial arts black belts in MMA. At “XFC 8” back in April, Chris Barnett in his first pro fight took ultra-seasoned vet Johnathan Ivey the distance with a unanimous decision butt-kicking in what was Ivey’s 66th professional bout.
Barnett took a few minutes out of his schedule this week to talk with PRO MMA (promma.info) about his upcoming fight this Saturday night, what it was like fighting his pro debut on HDNet, how the XFC discovered him, just how tough Johnathan Ivey is, and more. PRO MMA is proud to present big man Chris Barnett.
PRO MMA: How old are you and where are you originally from Chris?
CHRIS BARNETT: Lets see, I’m 22 and I’m originally from Zaragoza, Spain. My dad was in the Air Force, and I moved around a lot so I also claim Athens, Georgia because that’s where I lived for about eight years.
PRO MMA: Could you tell people the story of how you ended up fighting for the XFC and ended up in your first pro fight against Johnathan Ivey in Knoxville?
CHRIS BARNETT: (Laughs) I found out about the XFC when I was break dancing in a club this guy was handing out fliers for it so I tried it out. They had tryouts and I won, so that’s what landed me the fight with Ivey.
PRO MMA: You won some type of contest didn’t you, what was that all about?
CHRIS BARNETT: Yeah they made us do some drills and what not it was like an MMA combine if you will. So I caught their eye with my size and how I was moving, then we went into sparring. I sparred a guy who was training at the gym and I hit him with a spinning side kick and dropped him in 18 seconds.
PRO MMA: You are very athletic for a big guy, what kind of sports background do you have?
CHRIS BARNETT: I have always been in some kind of sport since I came out the womb. If it was not baseball I was playing football. If not that, soccer, Taekwondo, wrestling, I have always been in something.
PRO MMA: What were your thoughts going into that fight with Ivey? This guy had nearly 70 recorded fights and it was your first pro fight. Was that intimidating at all?
CHRIS BARNETT: At first I was like this is a set up, but then the guys at XFC showed so much confidence in me that I was like man I can really do this. So I trained for the fight and I felt ready. I was only told about the fight a week and a half in advance.
PRO MMA: So it was your first pro fight against a guy with almost 70 fights and you only found out a week and a half before the event you would be fighting? That is freaking nuts. We were sitting cage side and there were a few times I thought the ref might stop the fight but Ivey hung in there. How tough is that guy?
CHRIS BARNETT: That guy is tough with a capital T. It is like his head is made of a block. I think I could have been the first person to knock him out if that kick would have landed (laughs).
PRO MMA: What did you think about his in ring antics, him making the faces and all that? Did that bother you at all, did you find it disrespectful, or is it just good entertainment to you?
CHRIS BARNETT: A little bit of all that. It got old quick to me but on top of that I was not going to let him out show me so.
PRO MMA: How did you like being the opening fight on HDNet – Did your family get to watch it on TV? That must be cool having your first pro fight broadcast on national TV.
CHRIS BARNETT: I loved being the opening fight I got to set the tempo. My family was there so that was nice to have them there, but yeah my first fight on TV, I was like dang this is tight.
PRO MMA: So what do you know about this guy you are fighting this weekend, Daniel Perez? Had you heard of him before this event?
CHRIS BARNETT: I know he knocked out Marcus Jones who is an ex-Tampa Bay Buccaneer. I never really heard of him until now.
PRO MMA: Where are you training full time now and who are some of the guys helping you get ready for this fight?
CHRIS BARNETT: I train in three different spots: XFC gym, Gracie Tampa, and LA Fitness. Man I got a list of people; you got guys like Rob Kahn, Bruce Allen, Gus Ombey, Derrick Marcus, man the list goes on.
PRO MMA: How has your game changed since your last fight? What have you improved on most you think?
CHRIS BARNETT: WOW my last fight I was a level two. Now I have to be an eight. My game is very nice now. My hands have improved, my feet, my ju-jitsu, my core, everything has.
PRO MMA: Finally, can you give us a prediction of how this fight is going ot go?
CHRIS BARNETT: I don’t like to make predictions. But if I had to, I think I will finish him late in the second or beginning of the third.
PRO MMA: Thank you very much for your time Chris and best of luck this weekend.
CHRIS BARNETT: Thank you.
By: Jack Bratcher