Want to email Dan? Write him at [email protected]!
Click here to read Adam Morgan’s interview on Five Ounces of Pain!
We at Ranger Up would like to introduce you to Dan Barrera. Many of you have seen Dan on the UFC reality television show, The Ultimate Fighter 6. Born in Rupert, Idaho, Dan was an all-state wrestler in high school before he enlisted in the Air Force. While in the Air Force, Dan began boxing and quickly became one of the military’s best boxers – amassing a 13-3 record, including a close loss to Olympic Gold Medalist Andre Ward.
Dan was clearly an up and comer in the boxing world, seemingly getting better with each fight, but like so often happens in the military, a change of duty station turned Barrera’s life upside down. He suddenly found himself stationed in Fort Knox, Kentucky with no real boxing gym available. Rather than get depressed over his inability to continue to focus on his burgeoning boxing career, Barrera turned to his strong faith and simply looked at it as an opportunity afforded to him by God. He sought out Jason Keaton, the Fort Knox coach and owner of Cyclone MMA, and asked if he could begin training with the soldiers on Fort Knox’s Combatives Team. Keaton agreed and Dan spent the next few months getting arm-barred and choked into oblivion as he was welcomed into the wonderful world of Brazilian jiujutsu.
You can’t smoke a rock.
So here you’ve got a guy who is new to an area, is going from a world where he is the top dog to a world where he is essentially the “newbie” – he’s gonna give up right? Anyone that watched the Ultimate Fighter episode where Matt Hughes unleashed the fury on Dan for an entire practice leaving him with a hand so swollen that his teammates referred to it as a hand that “looked like a child drew it” knows that is not how Dan is wired.
Dan reveled in the sport. He loved getting beat on. He loved the challenge. And you know what? In short order he was a dominant jujitsu fighter and was amazing Jason with his progress. “The dude is just so strong and so persistent. I’ll catch him with something and he’ll ask how I got him and make me show him. Two days later, he’ll be working the same move on me!”
Pakistan, Potpourri, and the Right Girl…
There was no reason for the word “Potpourri” in the title – I just wanted to use it. Just as his training was reaching a peak and Dan was considering his first amateur fight, two things happened. He met a lovely young woman named Amber and he received orders to report to Pakistan to help support U.S. the War on Terror. He was only able to spend a few weeks with Amber before he deployed, but quickly knew she was someone special. Nevertheless, he had to switch gears and focus on the mission. In the few hours of downtime he had during the deployment, he trained as best as he could and corresponded with Amber, quickly building a relationship with her that was so strong that he made the determination that although he loved the service, it was time to become a fulltime family man. They married shortly after his return and settled on a farm not far from Knox, where Dan would continue to honorably serve the nation as a firefighter.
Nothing worth having was ever easy…
At Jason’s encouragement, Dan tried out for season six of UFC’s The Ultimate Fighter, and despite having no professional fights under his belt, was selected for the show. When he informed his fire chief of the good news, he was told that he wouldn’t have a job if he left (sounds like a real good dude). Faced with a brutally tough decision to make – leaving a new wife, a farm, and a secure job for the hope that he would make the grade in the UFC, Dan didn’t bat an eyelash, telling his boss that he wanted to be able to look at his children and tell them that he didn’t shy away from any challenge in life and that he had no regrets.
The Ultimate Fighter
So what happened on the show? Dan gave it 100% the whole time, and got into the ring with a mangled hand and had the first fight worth watching in the first six episodes. He dominated Ben Saunders in the first round, and lost the second round. Everyone in the house was waiting for the third when the judges revealed that Ben Saunders had won the fight. This decision may have even been worse than the absurd Bisping/Hammill decision from UFC 75, prompting UFC President Dana White to say, “You can’t leave it in the hands of these judges. I don’t want to say anything bad about the judging, but that was some horrible judging.” Regardless of the decision, Mr. White was so pleased with the intensity of the fight that he awarded both men the $5000 bonus and has invited Barrera to fight in December.
How we met Dan
Like the giant anaconda, Ranger Up is slowly wrapping itself around the fight community in a giant scheme to take over the world…ok maybe not…actually we were contacted by David Dennis, owner of the The Pain Factory. The Pain Factory is built around the premise that fighters need someplace to go where they can discern who actually is looking out for their interests rather than attempting to exploit them. David does not make money off of this and is not an “agent” – he is just tired of guys getting screwed over. Anyway, he called us and let us know that he knew a hard-working veteran that gave 100% in everything he did that needed some support.
After meeting Jason at the All-Army Combatives Tournament, and speaking with Dan at great length, we knew he fit in perfectly with us and we’re proud to have him on the Ranger Up Team.
Why We Like Dan
1) He doesn’t talk shit. Almost every pre-fight interview I have ever seen starts off with some dude blathering on about how his opponent “won’t know what hit him” or something even dumber like “I’ll finish him with either a knock out or a submission”. Brilliant assessment, Einstein. What other finishing options do you have? “I’ll either submit him, knock him out, or hit him with a flamethrower…” Anyway, Barrera doesn’t play with any of that. He just focuses on what he can control saying things like “I’m not going to leave anything out there” or “I’ll give it 100%”.
2) If you remove the letter “a” from his name, you get Dn Brrer, which really doesn’t mean anything at all…so don’t do that.
3) Dan knows the difference between combat and MMA. Dan will be giving out the trophies at a future Army Combatives Event. He will be doing so because one of the top tier fighters that you always see thanking the troops on television required that MWR pay him $7000 to do so. Rather than blast that guy, I am now inspired to start a column “Celebrities that don’t suck”, so that people can get first hand accounts of the folks out there that actually support the troops…but I digress. The far more interesting thing about my conversation with Dan was a very passionate comment from him that went as follows, “The worst thing that can happen to me in the ring is I get beat up. So what? I’ll learn and I’ll get back up and try again. These guys are out there fighting a real war for us – for me – how can you not respect and support that? I could never charge these guys for my presence. Who am I?”
Well Dan, you’re an up-and-coming UFC fighter who is scary good for the small amount of time you have trained and you are only going to get way better with time, but you’re a better dude. Thanks for your support and for not forgetting where you came from.
4) He was once a professional chainsaw juggler. This statement is probably not actually true, but if it was, we hope he wore those special chainsaw-proof chaps…because chainsaw juggling just isn’t safe.
5) He didn’t wuss out when things got hard on the show. Every single season of The Ultimate Fighter, some dude that is supposed to be tough, starts pining about his “girl” or “how tough it is in the house” or “the cameras” and quits the show, thereby ending his career. From a military perspective, their decision is always laughable, since even someone who hasn’t deployed yet has spent months away from wives, kids, family, girlfriends, etc. just training! Dan, on the other hand, was faced with a significant crisis at home when his wife called him regarding some serious medical issues she was experiencing due to the stress associated with his absence, a busted hand, and his first real fight, and he never even considered quitting. He quietly and calmly solved the problems that he could, sucked up the ones he could not, and just fought on.
We’ll keep you posted on Dan’s next fights! Want to write to Dan? Send email to [email protected]!