LAS VEGAS. Chris Barnett is only 5ft 9in tall and has a belly belly that looks more like sportswriters watching from a cage than the usual superbly built UFC fighters. He’s a heavyweight but somehow managed to miss weight at Friday’s hectic weigh-ins, coming in at 267.5 pounds, a pound and a half. above heavyweight limit of 266 for a non-title fight.
Moments after fighting Jake Collier on Saturday’s UFC 279 preliminary card at the T-Mobile Arena, Barnett collapsed and his left eye was swollen. Barnett got dropped a couple of times early in the first fight and wobbled, but while he wobbled, he was throwing punches. The crowd, which had been largely silent during previous fights, began to roar.
[UFC 279 full results: Diaz forces Ferguson to tap]
Both men were gassed, and Barnett was bleeding from every orifice when he returned to his corner after the first. Two of the three judges gave Collier the first 10-8 points. Few people knew that the second round would surpass the hectic first and that Barnett’s caged interview would bring down the entire hall.
Barnett stopped Collier at 2:24 seconds when referee Mark Smith jumped in to stop him as Barnett fired mowers from above. The crowd cheered wildly on Barnett, and he didn’t stop hitting until Smith pulled him back.
He then ran to the UFC TV team and did a front somersault in front of former heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier.
“Hey, they’ll say heavyweights, we won’t throw here, we won’t do it here,” Barnett said in the cage as the crowd roared. “Let me tell you right now, me guys like Jake, this is what we do. That’s why we’re in it. We signed a contract with the best organization in the world – UFC. That’s who we are. This is what we do. We’re here for you all, and I love it.
Thanks for the love and all. It means the whole world to me. It means the whole world to me. I love you all truly, with all my heart, with all my soul. Thank you. We are nothing without you. Nothing! Stand up for oneself. Stand up for oneself!”
The beginning of the end for Collier came at the start of the second round. Ringside doctor David Watson entered the octagon to check on Barnett’s left eye. He let it go on and Barnett seemed to feel the need to get the job done or stop the fight.
He started with a 1-2 score that broke Collier’s head and sent the crowd into a frenzy. Soon he was chanting: “Barnett! Barnett! Barnett! Barnet quickened his pace. He prevented a takedown attempt and brought Collier back.
He showed amazing dexterity for a guy who probably has a 46″ waist and 28″ inseam and no doubt only shop in the big and tall men’s section.
He managed to hit the mount, and he began to strike at Collier.
At this point, the arena was about 70 percent full, and the roar was deafening. Collier was unable to improve his position or defend strongly and was stopped by Smith. The house exploded.
Barnett then put on an even bigger show in the octagon when he was interviewed.
— When you chanted my name — Barnett! Barnett! Barnett! “I heard you,” he exclaimed gleefully. “I heard you!”
Returning to the locker room, he danced most of the way. Somehow he managed to get two beers and laughed when someone tried to serve him another one.
This speech and interview will not be forgotten soon.