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Huggy Bear Goes Viral

mason pearson
Chris Barnett sparring at Barnett Taekwondo Academy.

Chris Barnett is a rising UFC star, fighting by way of Athens, Georgia. Barnett recently burst onto the UFC fanbase’s radar with a spinning hook kick victory against Gian Villante, and a massive comeback victory against Jake Collier.

Originally born in Spain, Barnett moved to the United States for his father’s military career. Barnett and his family moved around from base to base until eventually settling in Georgia. His family of martial artists eventually opened a Taekwondo studio where Barnett still practices today.

Chris Barnett touches gloves with sparring partner ahead of practice.

For most of Barnett’s early career, he fought in different organizations all over the world. Many of these organizations were overseas in Japan, Korea, and various other countries. Originally was fighting under the name ‘beast boy,’ then Barnett went by ‘Huggy Bear’ for numerous years fighting abroad. Barnett even went as far as to wear a bear onesie while walking out to fights. Always smiling, laughing, and even dancing, Barnett was constantly a fan favorite. This persona was Barnett just being himself.

In training camps Barnett is known for being somewhat of a class clown, always cutting up, dancing, and cracking jokes.

“Its hard to stay serious against him in sparring. He’ll start being silly then, ’BAM’ you’re getting punched in the face.”- Training Partner, Leonard Williams

Speaking to this personality is his ability to separate business from personal feeling. After his recent comeback victory over Collier, Barnett celebrated his victory with his opponent. He said, “Me and Jake Collier drank and watched the rest of the fights together… We literally just traded blow for blow for all of seven minutes, and here we are together.”

In Barnett’s most viral performance, he landed a classic Taekwondo style spinning hook kick against Gian Villante. This kick secured Barnett a knockout victory, in front of a sold-out Madison Square Garden. Barnett did not know in the moment that this kick would put him across ESPN, television, and social media.  This kick had massive significance for Barnett. His father and Taekwondo mentor, suffered a stroke several years prior to Barnett earning this victory. This left him unable to corner Barnett in his fights, as he always had. A win of that magnitude by way of a kick his father taught him as a child, was extremely symbolic for Barnett.

“To throw it in this magnitude, to feel him with me… I tried my best not to cry.  You wouldn’t want to be a Michael Jordan meme, not in MSG.”- Chris Barnett

Since his UFC debut, Barnett has stacked on over 300,000 Instagram followers and counting. Barnett has been on ESPN’s top ten, published through multiple news organizations, and added on multiple sponsorships. Even Daniel Cormier can be quoted as saying, “Barnett rises his stock nearly every time he is given the opportunity to speak.” This rise in popularity has not inflated his ego. Barnett can still always be counted on for an autograph, picture, or smile.  He can still be seen around Athens, at his family’s gym, or even dropping in on local wrestling programs to mentor as he always has.





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Huggy Bear Goes Viral