Interview with Bryan Barberena above
Bryan Barberena must have guardian angels.
Leading up to the Daniel Rodriguez showdown last November, the 31-year-old UFC welterweight sustained two ruptured arteries in his abdomen during the last sparring session of training camp. The effects of the damage were not discernible immediately.
“The very first round I had taken a body kick by a training partner of mine and it didn’t feel out of the ordinary,” Barberena told MyMMANews. “Pushed through. Finished my three rounds. Hung out at the gym. Talked with the guys a little bit, my coach. And headed home.”
Barberena conducts his camps in North Carolina and commutes back to his home in Tennessee. Auspiciously, he didn’t pack his meal so he ended up going with an alternative source.
At that point, the agony started to materialize yet ‘Bam Bam’ just chalked it up to hunger.
“Went sat in the McDonald’s line the whole time,” Barberena said. “I got all the way to the dang thing. There was a huge line. I didn’t see any salads.”
He ended up going across the street and picking up a salad at Chick-fil-A delaying his journey back home. All these unforeseen circumstances added up to save his life.
Barberena had a four-and-a-half-hour drive ahead of him through the mountains. After a certain point, there are no exits, restaurants, gas stations, and cell phone reception is very weak. Talking with his wife while driving, the stomach pain hit another gear.
“I’m sweating like crazy,” Barberena stated. “Pouring sweat and [wife] was like, ‘you okay?’. I said. I don’t know, my whole body is tingling all the way down to my toes and my face, everything.
“All of a sudden my vision went out. And I’m driving on the highway and I can’t see.”
His wife instructed him to pull over. Driving without sight in the fast lane is not an easy task.
“I just got over real quick,” Barberena said. “Thank goodness there were no cars there. All I can think in my head was when I can feel my tires get off of the pavement that’s when I need to stop.”
After acquiring his vision back on the side of the road, he contacted the emergency dispatch. Barberena then pulled into a church parking lot at the next exit and was taken to the nearest hospital in an ambulance after some deliberation.
Even under complete duress, the Gym-O representative was already in fight mode. When the Emergency Medical Technician tried to apply an IV, he thought of the repercussions inside of competition.
“You can’t do that,” Barberena told the EMT. “I’m supposed to fight this week coming. You can’t give me an IV. I would get in trouble by USADA and I won’t be able to fight. They would suspend me. You can’t give me an IV unless it’s something major.”
They agreed to put the valve in for emergency use which ended up being utilized for what was to come. Once at the hospital, the pain returned to unbearable levels and he was rushed into emergency surgery. Under the knife, Barberena had two liters of blood removed and a blood transfusion on top of 20 staples from the bottom of his stomach to the lower chest.
When his wife arrived at the hospital, the doctors told her that Barberena barely made it and a few minutes more the injuries could have been fatal.
“I never saw it as that bad even after the surgery,” the American revealed. “It didn’t really hit me until weeks later that I realized, man I almost just died.”
The long line at McDonald’s, stopping in front of an off-ramp before hitting the destitute mountains and getting transported directly to a trauma hospital only a few miles away all played a pivotal role in Barberena still being with his family and friends.
South Korea-based combat sports reporter that covers many of the major organizations around the world.