Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Brad “Gordinho” Barnes: Coach to the Elite

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The most important word in MMA is “mixed.” Any successful fighter, from your small-time regional promotion to the biggest stages like the UFC or Bellator, needs to have a mixed variety of skills in their arsenal. For instance, one of those essential skills is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ.) Brad “Gordinho” Barnes has been an influential BJJ and MMA coach to many of the world’s best fighters including Bellator veterans Ryan Quinn of American Top Team and “King Mo” Muhammed Lawal.

Background and Early Days of BJJ

The amount of success Barnes has accumulated in the relatively short time he has been involved in BJJ is quite the accomplishment. “I got involved with it [BJJ] after I started ‘MMA’ which was called Vale Tudo or NHB back then in 2001,” Barnes told MMA Sucka. “Unfortunately I didn’t put the Gi on until 2006. The focus on the Gi and being more technical was really influenced by the work I was doing then as a police officer, so learning to control and slow the pace of the encounter was the most important thing for safety.”

Barnes was successful in his finale as an MMA fighter. He defeated Matt Holland via first-round armbar in April 2007 at 24/7 Entertainment 1: Professional Cage Fighting. The card was headlined by a young regional fighter who would later enter the UFC, Cody Pfister.

In 2015 Barnes accomplished the honorable distinction of earning his black belt under fourth-degree black belt Professor Bruno Bastos. Bastos himself has coached several MMA greats such as Mirko Cro Cop and Paul Buentello among many others. The blackbelt was earned by Barnes at the 2015 Masters World Championships. After that, in 2018 Barnes earned his first stripe on his black belt. “There’s a lot of memes out there talking about how small of a percentage of people make it to black belt,” Barnes said. “I see it because it’s so easy to get burned out or injuries or let life push you away from the mats. I’m lucky that I was stubborn enough and loved it enough that I could turn it into a career, so longevity became a natural part.”

Influences in the World of MMA

As previously mentioned, Barnes has been instrumental in the improvement of many MMA fighters and the aspect of BJJ in their overall game.

Ryan Quinn of ATT stated, “Brad Barnes is one of the good people in MMA. Aside from his wealth of knowledge of all aspects of the sport, he genuinely cares and tends to his athletes. Brad has run my training sessions as well as my corner in competition at the highest level with a direction only few people truly have, and I trust in him to do so going forward. It’s no surprise his academy in on the rise, and expect to see his fighters on the big stage with him in the corner real soon.”

Another of those greatly influenced by Barnes is former Bellator champion, King Mo who had the following to say.

“Brad Barnes has been involved in MMA for years. From the underground as a fighter to the mainstream as a coach. He has seen and experienced it all. If you are looking for a teacher, look no further than this man. He has an extremely high fight IQ and is a great communicator. When it’s time to fight, you need both of these attributes in your corner.”


Since 2012 Barnes has been racking in the accomplishments on the national and international stage. “Being able to place at NoGi Worlds by actually winning matches and competing at that level at black belt was huge for me,” Barnes told MMA Sucka. “Masters used to be called the ‘old man’ division, but everyone in it is a black belt. Everyone in there has been training forever. A lot of the guys in these brackets have been black belts longer than I’ve even been training so it’s a great feeling.” Here is a list of esteemed accomplishments per the Bastos BJJ Midland website.

  • 2012 Europa World Championships Gold Medalist
  • Masters World Champion
  • Dallas Open Absolute Champion
  • 2013 IBJJF Houston Open Absolute Champion
  • Dallas Open Absolute Silver Medalist
  • NoGi Worlds Bronze Medalist
  • NoGi Worlds Absolute Bronze Medalist
  • Masters Worlds Bronze Medalist
  • 2014 IBJJF Houston Open Champion
  • IBJJF Las Vegas Open Silver Medalist
  • 2015 IBJJF Houston Open Absolute Silver Medalist
  • Pan American Silver Medalist
  • New York Open Champion
  • ┬áDallas Open Champion
  • 2016 IBJJF Dallas Open Absolute Bronze Medalist

BJJ can create memories that last a lifetime. Similarly, for Barnes this is absolutely true. “It’s in my top five BJJ competition memories for sure. 1-Masters World Championship in 2012; 2-Bronze at Masters brown belt the next year where I beat a black belt that’s paid by a sheik to teach in Abu Dhabi; 3-My silver medal at PanAms at brown belt; 4-NoGi Worlds; 5-Getting injuries at Las Vegas Open at brown belt. it forced me to change some things about my game.”

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Matt's love and passion for martial arts began at the age of four with Taekwondo. Matt later trained in Brazilian jiu-jitsu while serving nearly ten years in law enforcement. Matt has just recently discovered his passion of writing on mixed martial arts.

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