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Bryan Barberena Ready to Return, Calls Out Jake Ellenberger

Bryan Barberena Ready to Return, Calls Out Jake Ellenberger

UFC veteran Bryan Barberena shares his love of fighting and wishes to face Jake Ellenberger next.

Feb 24, 2017 by Duane Finley
Bryan Barberena Ready to Return, Calls Out Jake Ellenberger
"I apologize for all the sweat."

Those are the words, in addition to the aforementioned sweat, that fly from Bryan Barberena immediately following a quick handshake. It's Tuesday morning at The MMA Lab, the gym he's an integral member of, and the bearded welterweight is already a solid hour deep into the work. The day will eventually see Barberena invest several more hours of sweat equity at the renowned facility, and he'll do so without a second of hesitation or complaint.

At the point where our paths intersect, Barberena has already tossed around hundreds of pounds of iron in the weight room and notched a handful of miles punishing a treadmill while his young daughter looks on. The almond-eyed cutie is a staple around the gym, and her presence only furthers the notion the MMA Lab is a family through and through.

Barberena offers a warm invite and puts his morning session on hold to sit down for conversation. And even though "Bam Bam" is warm and forthcoming during his time mixing things up in the interview, there's a lingering sense of an invisible clock ticking away. There's always work to be done with a mindset like Barberena's, and that approach says everything about the man he is.

"I wouldn't be doing it if it weren't for the love of the sport and the love of fighting," Barberena told FloCombat. "I tell everybody the moment I stop enjoying it and loving it I'm going to hang up my gloves. I'm going to be done. It's not about the money. The money is okay but it's not great. I can't support my family by myself or just on this. I work another part time job also, but I love this sport. I love fighting.

"I love getting in there and the competition aspect. I love that man vs. man and let's see who is better along with that daily grind. Man, you gotta love it to do that. It's a lot of hard work and time put in. 

"I wake up in the morning, take my kids to school, then come here. This is my second home," he added. "My daughter isn't in school yet so she comes here and hangs out with me. We are here until about noon then we go back home, grab some lunch, then spend some time together. We'll play with toys, watch a movie or have a tea party then head back for afternoon practice. Everybody sees the hard work you put in all the time, but in here I'm getting beat up. You don't win every time and that's how you get better."

On the flip side, the daily hustle is done in the pursuit of bigger things, and Barberena is a man willing to grind for his. The only thing the 27-year-old hustler wants is an opportunity, and he stays ready in case something comes along.

Strangely enough, those windows that have opened for Barberena have come against fighters of the highly touted prospect variety, and he's fared well in that equation. Barberena has found success in three out of his five showings inside the Octagon, with his biggest win to date coming via derailment against UFC poster boy Sage Northcutt.

Barberena would further his momentum by upsetting super prospect Warlley Alves just shy of four months later, but then had his own progression stunted by Colby Covington at UFC on Fox 22 in December. 

Although Barberena has nothing locked on the current schedule, there is a fight he's itching to land. Rather than continue his trend of facing up-and-coming talent, Barberena would love to try his hand against one of the most established names in the welterweight ranks in Jake Ellenberger.

Yet, while Barberena technically makes the callout, he's clear it's a move done out of absolute respect. Ellenberger has remained one of the division's most prominent threats for the better part of a decade, and "The Juggernaut's" fighting style is exactly the type of aggression he's looking to test himself against.

A bout with the risk/reward Ellenberger presents would make every minute of hard work in the gym worthwhile, every mile traversed cutting back and forth between his full time job and training done to further his fighting career, and he'll do whatever it takes to make the fight happen.

"There is someone I'd like to fight though," Barberena said. "I don't know if he'd like to fight me, but it would be a good one for the fans. I'd like to fight Jake Ellenberger. I think it would be a good fight for the fans. I have nothing against him. I've met him in person, fought his brother and no hard feelings. I just think it would be a great fight."