Luke Barnatt is a man with a plan and Scott Askham is standing in his way.
Barnatt and Askham will go toe-to-toe in the main event of ACB 70 in Sheffield on September 23 in what has been dubbed “The Batlle Of Britain”.
Barnatt will be the man stepping into enemy territory on September 23, but he’s not the least bit afraid of the atmosphere that awaits him from Askham’s loyal fan base.
“I’m used to this sort of thing now,” Barnatt said. “In my last five fights, only two of them have been on neutral ground. I think it’s acutally going to put him under a lot of pressure. It works hevaily in my favour.
“Coming out the UFC, changing camps, being at home with all those expectant family and friends. He’s got a lot of expectations and a lot of doubts going around in his mind. He can say it doesn’t bother him and this and that, but trust me, I’ve been there myself and I know he will be feeling the pressure of that come fight week.
Back in March, Barnatt suffered one of the biggest disappointments of his career when he was defeated in the main event of ACB 57 to Mamed Khalidov.
Defeat was something Barnatt said he could’ve stomached, but he admits that the nature of the 20-second blowout was a bitter pill to swallow.
“It was definitely new for me because what happened against Mamed was shocking,” Barnatt said. ” I dedicated three months of my life to that fight and I trained harder than I ever have for any fight. I was physically and mentally perfect and then it lasted jsut 20-seconds. It was crushing.
“It wasn’t the defeat, but the nature of it which was so disappointing. You never get all that hard work back and it stings. When I came back against Max [Nunes], I had a lot on my mind with that and on top of that I was very sick–I couldn’t get out of bed for five days. I was on antibiotics up until the Thursday ahead of that fight so on top of all the stuff I was dealing with mentally, I was also in very bad physical shape.
“That said, I was happy with the way it went and what I showed in the fight. This time around for Scott, I’ve had a perfect camp and I feel in great shape. Scott’s not felt what victory has been like for a very long time and I given the shape I’m in right now, I don’t see him tasing it again for a while longer.”
Barnatt’s immediate future lies on the result of his middleweight showdown with Askham, but “Bigslow” has made everyone well aware that he’s planning a permanent move up to 205-pounds.
The Brit was cut from the UFC back in 2015 and has since gone on to record five wins with five finishes. Aside from one loss to Khalidov, Barnatt has been making all the right moves to get himself back in the UFC and he believes that with two more wins it could potentially open the door for a return, or an ACB title fight.
“I’m making the move up [to 205-pounds] because of my age and I can’t keep putting my body through the strain of cutting this weight,” Barnatt said. “I’m not afraid of the bigger men or the bigger guys at light heavyweight.
“I showed against Max I have the strength to deal with a very athletic guy at this weight. I think I’ve got a real future in the weight class. After a knockout Scott I see there being two real options for me. The first one is to go after the strap at ACB and the other is to do my best to try and get back in the UFC at light heavyweight.
“I’ve got two fights on my ACB deal left including this one and then I’ll be a free agent. I’m looking to fight again on November 18 on the ACB Abu Dhabi card and I’m pushing hard for that. If I win all on these fights I’ll have three wins in a row and four wins already at 205-pounds. I’m aiming then to take time out to build myself into a true light heavyweight and then come back either for the ACB title or a run in the UFC.”