At the age of 16, Jon Barnard [twitter] entered the world of kickboxing. At first it was simply an alternative way to exercise and gain self-esteem. That changed when he discovered that he quite enjoyed kickboxing and the competitiveness of the sport. Barnard began competing under Team Ruthless.
“Our team consisted of five fighters and took place at a poverty stricken gym that consisted of one heavy bag, a few pairs of mismatch gloves and two mildew mats. But yet we were thankful for the little we had and reaped the benefits that it brought us.”
After a few successful years of kickboxing Barnard was introduced to MMA. A fundraiser allowed Barnard and his teammates the chance to fly out to Oregon and train with OJJ. The addition of a ground game allowed him to complete his already impressive fighting style and make him more well-rounded. He continued to compete in both kickboxing and MMA where he earned three kickboxing titles at two different weight classes as well as an amateur MMA title. His amateur MMA record stands at 5-3-1 with an outstanding kickboxing record of 29-4-1.
“Around 2008 I was scouted by a man named Wally Carvalho who saw the potential I possessed and decided to put some time and effort into helping me get to a higher level.”
Jon Barnard traveled to Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento and San Jose to train. It was in San Jose where he trained with the likes of Cain Velasquez, Josh Koscheck, Josh Thomson, Jon Fitch, Mike Swick, and Brett Rogers at the American Kickboxing Academy. Within a few months of being on the road with Carvalho, he was recognized as one of the top fighters from the state of Hawaii.
After being featured in two magazines and interviewed on the TV show MMA insider, Barnard decided to step back from competition in order to pursue his bachelor’s degree in business management along with a minor in marketing.
Now that everything is straightened out with school, Jon Bernard is ready. His next challenge is finding success in the Maximum Fighting Championship, Canada’s top MMA promotion.
What got you started with mixed martial arts?
I started MMA just to get in shape and to drop a few pounds. At 185lbs and five foot three inches tall I found it difficult to make new friends because my self-esteem was low. I figured if I dropped a few pounds I would find the confidence to meet new people and be more social. I first started training to lose weight and found myself training with the best stand up strikers Oahu, Hawaii had to offer. After about 20lbs and four months of training my coach (Colin Mackenzie) decided to ask me to corner him for a kickboxing match in an attempt to motivate me to compete as well. I fell in love. I trained for a few more months and attended every local fighting event and weigh ins in Hawaii. I would support all my teammates and one time back in April of 2006 I was asked by Colin and the promoter if I wanted to be a replacement fighter for someone that dropped out. I did not want to but I guess when the heat of the moment and being put on the spot comes up, us local boys will take any fight. The promoter pointed out the possible opponent, a Caucasian boy with a skateboarder look. I sized him up and it looked to me that I could take him easily. We walked to the scale and I weighed in 160lbs, then my opponent stepped on the scale and took off his shirt and was shredded with all muscle 160.9lbs. That’s when I knew I was in for a beating. I was scared and very nervous the day of the event and everyone doubted me including myself. Colin would tell me just go out and have fun. The fight ended in a draw but then I found out I was the first to put a slight blemish on his record previously 12-0 record. From the on I knew if I could overcome a fight like my first, I could do anything in this sport.
How has your success with kickboxing helped in your transition to MMA?
After kickboxing for over 8 years I found it kind of hard to transition into MMA due to the ground (game). I was a striker that wanted to strike; therefore MMA in the beginning was a tough transition. After two weeks training in Oregon at OJJ in Tigered, Oregon we picked up some awesome ground tips and tricks and when I came back to Oahu I had my first MMA fight. I won my first fight via armbar and thereafter the ground game became my second nature. I was a fast learner and contained a sponge-like brain that was willing to learn from anyone about anything that could aid my MMA endeavors. I came to a conclusion that every fight starts on the feet, therefore learning takedown defense would be the best tool for success in conjunction with my solid kickboxing foundation.
Was it hard finding kickboxing fights in Hawaii? How about MMA?
I have over 40 matches and most of them were back to back fights (a week apart). Finding fights was not hard until three years ago when Hawaii DCCA decided to regulate all forms of MMA, kickboxing and Boxing.
What was it like training at American Kickboxing Academy?
Training with AKA was the most unreal event of my life. Sparing with Cain Velasquez, Josh Koscheck and Josh Thomson and actually holding myself well in the kickboxing department will be believed by few but I will prove it once I enter the cage with a demeanor and fight style similar to that of Velasquez.
Do you plan on training there (AKA) for your future fights?
I was blessed to have trained with them once and if the opportunity presents itself again I will most definitely go up and train with them again. My mentor and my pops Wally Carvalho is responsible for this blessing and if he is reading this and can talk to his old friend Javier Mendez on coming back, let’s do it.
How does it feel being signed to the MFC after only two professional fights?
After doing more research on the MFC I find it to be another blessing. At the same time I think it goes the same way because I will give the fans of Canada a fight they will never forget.
Is there anyone in particular you would like to fight first in the promotion?
No disrespect to anyone out there but I’ve noticed that a fighter that I recently fought about a year ago is also fighting in this event. Just like any other fighter wanting to avenge a loss, “Hard Hitting Hill Billy I’m coming for you!”
When can we expect your debut in the MFC?
I’ll be competing May 9 in Edmonton, Alberta Canada under the MFC, making my debut against Corey Gower. Watched a video on him and seems to me this will be a good fight in the MFC. I can’t wait to put in work for the fans of Canada. From the lovely islands of Oahu, Hawaii I would like to say ALOHA to all the Canadians and everyone that is reading this. (But more so) I’d like to say the Hawaii Boys are looking to make a footprint just like BJ Penn did.