The deserving underdog: Bryan Barberena

bryan barberena
Rising UFC welterweight finishing machine Bryan Barberena | screen shot Youtube

Bryan Barberena debuted in UFC with a record of 8-2. He had finished all his opponents but wasn’t really known to people. He was a 5-year veteran, and had fought in famous promotions like King of the Cage. But despite these facts he was not a source of attraction; he was neither handsome nor did he have some sort of hype around him. He was just one of the fighters who was there and people thought of him as fodder to make other fighters popular. Well UFC was wrong and so were the people, Bryan made his UFC debut against the twin brother of UFC veteran Jake Ellenberger, Joe Ellenberger. He was an underdog and entered the octagon with underdog odds of +180.

“Bam Bam” made his debut on 13th December 2014 on UFC on Fox 13. He showed to the world how wrong were they about him. He not only defeated Joe, he knocked him out in round 3 and announced to everybody they could not take him lightly. His next fight was against Chad Laprise, at UFC 186 on 25th April 2015. He was a heavy underdog as he entered the cage with odds: +340. People were sure that Barberena would not last more than a round, and again they were so wrong. He displayed a beautiful game and fought like a man. Despite being an underdog he gave Chad a run for his money and the fight was announced the fight of the night. Bryan lost but he did earn many loyal fans, true fans who appreciated winners.

Even after these beautiful performances, Bryan was never really acknowledged by fans as a great fighter. He had not fought on the UFC main card and was still really unknown. A fair few people knew who he was and that he was a good fighter. But true talented fighters cannot be held down. Bryan’s dedication to the sport and his hard work did yield him rewards. UFC had seen the rise of a new golden boy, the handsome, charming and undefeated Sage Northcutt. Sage was supposed to face Andrew Holbrook on January 30, 2016 at UFC on Fox 18. However, Holbrook withdrew from the bout citing an injury eight days prior to the event. No one really had the courage to take up on a karate genius such as Sage on a short notice. After all, Sage was undefeated and was Dana’s favorite discovery. He had finished all his opponents and stood with a record of 7-0. However, Bryan was ready to take on the challenge and became a butt of many trolls by Sage’s fans. He was a heavy underdog as he entered the octagon with odds: +210. Because of the short notice of the fight it was conducted in the welterweight division.

Bryan again proved people wrong, he destroyed Sage in the round two of the fight by forcing “Super” to tap out to his vicious and ingenious submission. Bryan got huge attention from many MMA websites after the fight because of his performance. He stopped a skilled athlete such as Sage on short notice and this garnered respect in the eyes of those that had been overlooking him. Well this victory also managed to annoy many people and resulted in him being called a nobody by many haters. Some even called it a fluke.

Bryan was then casted against undefeated Brazilian Warlley Alves. He was a huge underdog and the fact that he was facing an undefeated Brazilian fighter in Brazil, made sure that Bryan had no hope of winning. Warlley was also the winner of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3 Middleweight tournament, and stood with a record of 10-0, out of which 7 had been stoppages. “Bam Bam” entered the cage with odds: +450, and MMA analysts had declared that Bryan was destined to lose. But Bryan again managed to fight off the odds and showed a display of a beautiful game and for the first time in his career Bryan had a win which did not come by a stoppage.

The 27-year old American comes from a humble background where he used to build grain bins in the Midwest before becoming an MMA fighter. He has always fought off odds and has proven himself inside the octagon. He stands with a UFC record of 3-1, but despite that he really has not been pushed by the promotion. A fighter as talented and as strong-headed as Bryan could likely be among the top-ranked fighters in the welterweight division. But he is not ranked at all, is not yet getting the push he deserves and is still called an underdog. Bryan has proved himself time and again and definitely deserves a ranked fighter. He has proven himself as both a hard hitter and a physiologically strong person.

Yes, Bryan is definitely not popular but neither was Holly Holm. Everybody thought that Holly was going to lose against Ronda but she proved herself by knocking her out. She proved it to everyone how good a fighter she was, she fought off odds. No one knew Joanna Champion, when she faced Claudia, but she defeated Claudia and has now gone on to become the greatest straw-weight fighter the UFC has ever seen. If giving the deserving a chance is what UFC does then let Bryan get his opportunity. Bryan is a hardworking fighter and has given some of the most entertaining fights. He has what it takes to not only be a top-rated fighter but has everything it takes to become a future champion in the UFC’s 170-pound division.

Here is someone who is being held down and this is a humble request to please follow Bryan Barberena on twitter so that we can get a deserving fighter the respect he deserves. We need to join efforts; Bryan is not a nobody, he is a champion in making so please join the efforts by following him @bryan_barberena.

Remember underdogs do shine, because they are the ones who have the capability to change and accept new challenges. Bryan go ahead we will follow you.

Your true fan,

-Paarth Pande
(@PandePaarth)