Las Vegas, NV – Darian Weeks is not the name Bryan Barberena is expected to fight at UFC Vegas 44 this weekend.
Barberena (15-8) had been paired with Matt “The Immortal” Brown, a legendary name in the welterweight division at this point. But with Brown forced out due to COVID-19, Barberena made the flight to Las Vegas not knowing who he would fight this Saturday.
After losing the fight to Brown, Barberena admitted on Wednesday’s media day he was “definitely crushed in a way. Right away, my first reaction was as if the heart had just fallen, everything seemed to have come to a standstill. The Tennessee-born fighter was actually playing video games, broadcast live, when he heard the news – from a fan in the accompanying chat, who informed him that Brown had been forced to leave the fight.
“I was a little stunned at first. I would say it lasted about 30 minutes though. You have to restore that state of mind. Barberena spoke with UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby, who informed the fighter that he was working to find a replacement for Brown. “So right away I was like ‘okay, it’s done, I can’t help it, let’s refocus, we still have work to do.” Then it was about finishing the last week of battle camp, preparing for weight loss and everything in between – all without knowing who he would be fighting against.
“I had no idea who I was going to fight,” admitted Barberena. “I said [Sean Shelby], I said “take someone”. I do not care. Take anyone. I said ‘I’m fighting next Saturday’ and [Shelby] says’ okay. I’ll find someone, you’ll have someone, ”and I got on a plane not knowing who I was going to fight against this week. Arrived here, I still did not know. It didn’t really matter, because I’m ready to fight, and I’m ready to fight anyone.
The name ended up being undefeated Darian Weeks, who will make his UFC debut in the fight. The pair face off on the main card at UFC Vegas 44 this Saturday.
Watch the full UFC Vegas 44 media day by Bryan Barberena above. The event takes place this Saturday, December 4, 2021 at the Apex in Las Vegas. More coverage from Wednesday’s media day can be found below.