Tuckerton’s Brendan Barrett Captures Third MMA Title This Year
“Brutal” Brendan Barrett of Tuckerton has been bashing his way through his mixed martial arts competition this year and is on a roll, earning a striking three heavyweight championships for different promotions within the past five months. Most recently, Barrett, 30, raised the Extreme Fighting Events (XFE) belt at the Cage Wars event at Harrah’s Casino in Philadelphia on Aug. 25, winning a grueling title bout decision against Randy Smith.
As he entered the cage, the crowd that Barrett personally sold about 80 tickets to began frantically chanting his name, showing a growing following the fighter has developed. The fight was a three-round war in which Barrett dominated the first two rounds through take-downs and controlling the pace of the fight with effective strikes.
“I had him hurt pretty badly, but he took everything I gave him,” said Barrett, who gave up about 35 pounds and at least five inches of reach to Smith, 36. “He was bleeding all over the place in the second round. I was really close to almost finishing the fight from a dominant position, but he was always fighting back the whole time.”
Smith mounted a final, all-out assault in the third round.
“Part of my game plan was to let him punch me in the face so he would tire himself out but he kept coming,” said Barrett. “The game plan didn’t work out the greatest but it kept people on the edge of their seats. I told him, ‘All the respect in the world,’ and that that was one of my hardest-fought victories. I’ve never seen someone as determined and possessed for a fight. Everything I wanted to do to him in that fight he had trained and prepared perfectly for.
“He was going to end up getting a win and he did everything he needed to do to get it. I guess I just pushed a little harder and hit a little harder and I wasn’t walking out of there without that belt.”
The fight would air on CN8 Comcast SportsNet multiple times.
“I haven’t seen anybody get that many new title opportunities in a year. It’s pretty remarkable,” said XFE owner Dave Feldman. “That’s basically the way it works on our level when you’re a good fighter, and a good ticket seller.”
Barrett picked up the Locked in a Cage HWT belt in June, besting “Bazooka” Joe Stripling; and the Raging Warriors HWT title by defeating J.A. Dudley at Mayhem on the Mountain in April, with quick punishing victories over both opponents. He also holds two heavyweight submission-grappling titles for jujitsu and is becoming more interested in boxing after having one professional fight.
In his interview with The SandPaper, Barrett was well spoken and collected – or as his website brutalbrendanbarrett.com describes him: “Gentle by nature, brutal by trade.”
“This has been a pretty big year,” said Barrett, who began the year recovering from a broken ankle sustained in a training accident. “Yeah, three in a row; it’s getting exciting. Hopefully, things just keep coming.”
Barrett’s MMA successes this year brings up the prospect of competing for larger companies like the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
“I’m open to it. I just gotta take each fight as it comes. It’s just a matter of what’s going to give me the best opportunity. I had this fight; I got through it and won. Now I’m just looking into a bunch of different options and possibilities.
“It doesn’t matter really what the show is. I’m going to be doing the same thing against another man with two arms and two legs. It doesn’t phase me. I’ve been doing this a while. And you have to be mentally prepared. Or else when it happens, you’re going to get sucked in and get distracted by the UFC or Strikeforce, and lose sight of what you’re there to do and get star-struck.”
Barrett is one of thousands vying for the same spotlight and, as he explained, sometimes it comes down to “dumb luck.”
“Other times, there’s politics involved. Or getting solid management that manage guys in the UFC.
“I’ve been self-managing for most of my career,” said Barrett. “When I got some big opportunities early on, there were some managers that dropped the ball. I’ve been trying to have someone else handle it so I can focus on fighting. But it cost me, so I’ve been taking care of it myself.”
Management and marketing skills may have been developed while Barrett attended Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa., majoring in accounting and business administration with a finance concentration. During his final semester senior year, tragedy struck, literally, in the form of a car accident in which a distracted student driver rear-ended Barrett’s vehicle at 50 miles per hour, leaving him with serious back injuries and causing him to take a medical leave from school despite his best efforts to continue.
“It turned my world upside down. Over half my school was covered by an academic scholarship and that got used up.”
Barrett had plans to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and move on to law school. Instead, he found himself working menial jobs trying to save enough money to get back to school and finish, but to no avail.
“It was an uphill battle. I felt like I was always chasing numbers. I was just miserable and kind of lost. All the friends I was in college with had great jobs and were getting married and having kids. I took a step back and did a lot of self-reflection, soul searching, and meditating and realized the one thing in life that always made me happy was competing,” said Barrett – a lifelong athlete and a star in football, track and wrestling at Pinelands Regional High School, as well as a starting wrestler on the college level.
“It wasn’t a light decision,” said Barrett on starting his MMA career, though he admits few sports offer a post-college age adult as much to seriously compete in. “My favorite sport was wrestling; what you put in it you got out of it. I wrestled for 13 years but I was never allowed to hit anybody. So when they said, ‘Hey, you’re allowed to go hit somebody,’ and I was learning something new, it was like a kid with a new toy you want to try it out.
“With fighting it’s all you; there’s nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. One of you is coming out of there with your hand up.”
Barrett’s MMA career began in November 2006 with a fight he entered with just a few months training. His professional record stands at 7-5, with one draw and no contest. Barrett is quick to defend losses as lessons learned during what was a tumultuous, mid-career period that included health issues exacerbated by cutting too much weight – or simply politics.
“I had a couple bad calls when I was clearly dominating or winning. (Once) I got cut ’cause I was dehydrated, and even after still dominating the fight it was stopped because of the cut three minutes later.”
With no more than five fights under his belt, Barrett took a fight on 10 days notice against Alex Shoenauer, who was ranked 30th in the world at the time.
“Even when I destroyed him – where clearly the stats were one sided – they gave him a split decision. When you got Randy Couture in your corner, it kind of helps.”
Still, two of Barrett’s heavyweight title matches this year were rematches and served to erase any blemishes on his record as a heavyweight.
He continues to train with several different camps, including Muay Thai veteran Phil Nurse in New York, to his first trainers, John Twaddell and Al Haldewang of Barnegat, whose Ronin Grappling System he continues to train with. Barrett takes from each and adds his own spin to what has collectively come to be known as Brutal MMA.
The name itself came from a friend asked to describe the common thread throughout Barrett’s fights, win, lose or draw. “I’ve never had a boring fight. Everything I was nicknamed growing up was taken several times over, so I wanted something different that would stand out, that no one else had.
“I definitely have a lot of support and a lot of people that follow me. On those days when you’re a little beat, banged up, and run down, it helps you push a little further and get through it.”
Barrett is less candid concerning the money one makes as an MMA fighter that wins three championships in a single year. “It all depends on what you negotiate for the fight and whether there’s a win bonus. It wasn’t a great amount of money,” said Barrett, who adds that often earnings are based on the following one can bring to a match.
“I do a lot of sacrificing to do what I do. I do some side jobs here and there, ’cause I have to travel a lot to train and to get more experienced guys to train with. I’m always looking for some more sponsors to help me keep going and get my next fight.”
Sponsors for the Aug. 25 title bout were Back to Basics 100% Natural Home Products; Pine Bay Liquors in Tuckerton; Jersey Royalty Clothing; and Rick Collins, Esq. Law Firm. Those interested in sponsorship or to follow when and where Barrett’s next battle will be should search for “Brutal” Brendan Barrett on Facebook or head to brutalbrendanbarrett.com.