‘It was quite ruthless’: Eugene Bareman, fighers reveal how coach united team before UFC 281


City Kickboxing vets credit Eugene Bareman’s “intense” methods for bringing them together for UFC 281.

During an appearance on Monday’s The MMA Hour, the teammates described a verbal beatdown from Bareman to motivate them after a lull in training that he and other coaches deemed unacceptable. Lightweight Dan Hooker stated that this came following a long stretch of intense sparring sessions, which left everyone exhausted.

Bareman also had a knife – or several knives, depending on the source – that certainly left an impression, even if no one seriously expected him to use it during his speech. Others have been shunned or mocked for bringing blades to practice. For UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya and his team, it’s just part of working with the City Kickboxing patriarch and their tight-knit family.

“He is just a f ****** oddo,” joked Adesanya. He said that he sometimes bears the brunt Bareman’s criticisms, but thanked his coach for pushing him.

The teammates all say that they are stronger than ever, as they prepare to face their respective opponents at UFC 281.. No matter how hard things got, Hooker said he never considered going anywhere else to train.

“I’m going to train at City Kickboxing forever, no matter how many times Eugene screams at me and does these sort of things,” he said. “That’s what separates us. Because there is no way back, he can push and prod and tear us down. You can’t leave. We’re in it for the long haul.”


UFC lightweight Brad Riddell, who faces Renato Moicano on Saturday’s preliminary card, could sense a storm brewing when he arrived in New Zealand from a stay in Thailand, where his family has roots. He noticed that the sparring rounds had been going too long during the “spider circuit,” an eight-round, five-minute bout of multiple opponents. He noticed that the timer was gone. Bareman had stopped the clock.

“He’s like, ‘I’ve got the time – I’ll stop when I’ll stop,'” Riddell remembers the coach saying.

The next day, the circuit was even harder. Again, the timer was paused, and they continued to slug it out with each other.

Bareman believes he sparred at least twice as many rounds.

” I had to be a part of myself that I rarely show,” he stated. “I had to be tough, I had to be mean. If sparring lasted more than an hour, and they weren’t happy with it, I forced them to continue .”


Riddell stated that after another tough day of sparring the coach took them to his office and let them have their way. Hooker stated that Bareman shouted at them, said we sucked and [said] we are complacent, being average and demanding more.

Adesanya was chosen as the coach’s target. The UFC middleweight champ said it wasn’t uncommon to get an earful as a veteran of the gym. His status as a famous fighter didn’t exempt him from criticism. He was initially angry about the tirade and added Hooker told the coach some of the things said were “unnecessary.”

“He is human, and makes mistakes. So he decided that this child needed a kick in their butt,” stated Adesanya from Bareman. But I did not. I’m glad he did. However, I had already been stepped up. … The speech is still fresh in my mind. The speech was brutal. At the time, I was like, ‘What the f***?'”

Adesanya said that Bareman had “probably” brought a knife to the meeting. Once, he said, the coach brought a machete to the gym. He said that the machete was more for display than intimidation.

” You know the fidget spinner. He has knives,” Adesanya said.

Riddell was not too upset by the meeting. He believes the veterans weren’t necessarily the primary targets of the meeting.

“We have some very family/team oriented environment there,” he said. Eugene and the other coaches have forged a good relationship with them.

“For Israel and [Mike] Blood Diamond’ [Mathetha], me and Carlos [Ulberg], have been together for many years, so our relationship is different to the younger fighters who come in. Maybe he felt that they were starting to get more relaxed. At the end of the day, it’s a high-risk, high-reward job. So maybe it was what was required was to make everybody realize that he’s a coach, first and foremost, and his job is to get us to win, and everybody’s on the same playing field.”

Ulberg, a former model and would-be contestant on New Zealand’s version of “The Bachelor,” didn’t take any of it personally.

” “I think everyone responds differently to that,” he stated. I motivate myself and, just as many of the other guys, [they] also motivate themselves, but it is really helpful to have somebody to push them during training camp. So I guess this was more of an emotional part for everyone to bond together as a team. It was different for everyone. I took it on.”

Bareman explained that in confronting his team, he had to “fracture” the camp to bring it back together. The other coaches and he noticed an increase in excitement well into camp and decided to tackle it together.

Hooker stated that in other gyms there may be a boundary that a coach would not cross, as he might fear alienating his students. Bareman is different.

“The boys, they weren’t happy,” the coach said. “They didn’t like the way they were being treated. It was obvious. But also, we’re unemotional about that. If you’re not happy, then that’s your fault, because you’re not performing to the utmost of your ability, to the ability that we think you can perform. It’s not your fault. That’s not our fault. We’re doing everything we can, because that’s what we do as coaches.

“We put everything into these guys. They must do their bit. They have to come into the gym and perform at 98 percent, 95 percent. Every time they go to the gym, they must perform at 100. This is the expectation. We push it to the limit and get the desired results .”

For Hooker, the words arrived at the right moment. The 32-year-old fighter had gambled big on a pair of high-profile fights against now-champ Islam Makhachev and Arnold Allen (in his return to featherweight) and come up short. Hooker observed that whenever he went up against Bareman, it was in the cage.

“[Bareman] understands it is not personal,” he stated. “It’s not like I don’t trust him. I’m just headstrong. “

This time, Bareman said, Hooker was the first to get on board with the new program.

“It had to happen, because it’s just to wake everyone up,” Hooker said. “Maybe we were being complacent. We reached an entirely new level after that. … We met the challenge. We definitely reached a new level, post-life-threatening experience.”

So the knives may have helped, too.

“Knives were pulled,” Hooker laughed and pointed to his chair. “Legit knives. He would have had them on this chair. … He’s always packing.”

Source: https://www.mmafighting.com/2022/11/8/23445762/it-was-quite-ruthless-eugene-bareman-fighers-reveal-how-coach-united-team-before-ufc-281?rand=96749