For Bryan Barberena, it’s the UFC or bust.
Barberena was one of the standout performers at Saturday’s UFC Columbus show as he went toe-to-toe with Ohio’s own Matt Brown for three rounds to earn a split nod and his share of the evening’s Fight of the Night award. In his post-fight scrum, “Bam Bam” revealed that this was actually the final fight on his current contract and that he’s looking forward to either returning to the promotion on a new deal or retiring.
“I’m really glad [the Brown fight] happened because this is the last fight on my contract,” Barberena said. “I haven’t been open about that, but this is the last fight on my contract. The UFC didn’t say anything about renegotiating. I tried to ask about it.
“Dana White, let’s talk. I’d love to keep fighting. I’d love to keep putting on shows. I don’t want to fight anywhere else. If this is it, you don’t want me no more, that’s okay, I’ll hang ‘em up here. I should have left my gloves in the octagon if that’s the case. If not, I’d love to keep putting on shows.”
Barberena and Brown were originally scheduled to fight this past December, but Brown withdrew after testing positive for COVID-19. Stepping in for Brown was UFC newcomer Darian Weeks, who Barberena defeated by unanimous decision. Barberena has now won two straight fights and three of his last four.
In 14 UFC appearances, Barberena owns an 8-6 record. The veteran welterweight was asked if he was serious about hanging up the gloves should the UFC not offer him a new deal and he doubled down on his statement.
“Yeah, absolutely,” Barberena said. “No, I’d be done. Me and my wife talk about this a lot. The UFC, that’s where I want to be. It was the goal the whole time, I’m excited, I love being here, they treat me well. I love being in front of these fans, it’s the biggest organization out there, the best organization out there as far as I’m concerned. And you know what? If they don’t want me to come out and put on shows anymore I’ll hang ‘em up and I’ll go spend my daily at the farm with the family and work on building that.”
Though Barberena was hoping that the UFC would negotiate with him earlier rather than allow him to fight his contract, he says he felt no pressure heading into Saturday’s bout even with free agency looming.
Should he get his wish and ink a new UFC deal soon, he’s open to any opponent next, though he did mention a former welterweight champion as a preferred possibility.
“Honestly, the next person I’d love to fight would be Robbie Lawler,” Barberena said. “I think that would be an awesome matchup. I’d love to test myself against him. He’s one of those guys who brings it and I’m a fan of him.
“There’s tons of other matchups out there, guys who come to throw down and bring it so I think there’s definitely a lot of matchups. But yeah, I’m not gonna turn down anybody. Whoever name comes on that contract, you can count on me saying, ‘Yes.’”
Damon Martin contributed to this report on site.