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“All my guys, if they want to get down and dirty, and they want to really push, they can bite down on their mouthguard and push as hard, if not harder, than anybody in this sport,” Bareman said. “That’s definitely not the best path for victory sometimes, so for me, it’s just about containing that sort of aggression and that sort of heart. But having it there is a good card to have in your back pocket.”

You can see that grit in several of their performances – Adesanya’s fifth round against Gastelum and Riddell’s final punch from his knees at UFC 243 come to mind – but so do the disciplined, well-planned efforts such as Hooker’s win over Al Iaquinta and Kara-France’s win over Tyson Nam.

Bareman – in his own right a successful Muay Thai, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and mixed martial arts competitor – can see the value of the gym’s success impact him personally, as well.

“This whole sport has changed me as a person,” Bareman said. “I’ve definitely changed. I think I’ve become a better person because of what’s happened in the last few years. I’m a lot more comfortable than I was in certain situations; interviews, for instance. I was not very comfortable in front of the media, but nowadays, it’s part of what we do, and the way the sport is growing and developed, this is a part of it. 

“Spiritually, emotionally, mentally, this journey, and especially in the last few years, has been very good for my well-being.”

Along that journey, Bareman sees City Kickboxing’s rising profile as an opportunity to not only influence the sport but also the community. Though the gym’s legacy is more in its foundational stage in terms of its impact in the UFC, he is well-aware that the work they’re doing can reach far beyond the dimensions of the Octagon.

“I just want the sport and my gym to have touched them in some positive sort of manner, whether it be Israel or whether it be someone that’s just coming in to get fit and lose some weight,” he said. “I just want them to remember me and just think that I’ve had some sort of positive impact on them, whether that means winning a world title and having a hand in them securing their financial future, or whether that means they came in here for six months and lost 10 kilos for their wedding or something. I just want people to remember me for having a positive impact and my gym for having a positive impact on their life.”


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