Luke Barnatt: "cardio is one of my greatest weapons"
Luke Barnatt to face off against Mamed Khalidov, The KSW middleweight champion
The 11th of March will see The Manchester Arena play host to ACB54, where British Middleweight champion of Venator FC, Luke Barnatt, will be fighting for Khalidov's title
The event will be the promotions’ first event in the UK
Luke Barnatt, former middleweight of UFC and The Ultimate Fighter Alumni, is headlining the ACB54 MMA event, and spoke to NQ about the upcoming event and how he is relishing this challenge.
Reflecting on what drives him to fight, Luke told the NQ: “These moments are why we play this game, I've never felt so alive getting up and going to training, working on my skills pushing myself to new levels. I'll be headlining a historic event in my home country against one of the most Dangerous middleweights ever.... what's more exciting than that?
The last time I fought at the MEN when I picked up fight of the night honours against Andrew Craig where I got a spectacular finish. So I can't wait to repeat that and thank the English people for their support.”
Luke is coming off a first round finish in December of last year, so he was able to enjoy his Christmas with minimal damage and begin his training at Phuket Top Team in Thailand before relocating to his home in the south of Spain, where he runs ‘LiliusBarnatt Martial Arts’ academy, where he has worked on all the aspects of his game to ensure the Luke Barnatt that turns up on the 11th is the best yet.
Training in MMA is incredibly gruelling, but Luke has said that things are going well, he’s enjoying his training, and he’s looking for the highlight reel knockout.
“The main focus for this camp has been on my striking because I want a devastating finish. As for Strength and conditioning, I work two or three times a week on lifting as well as doing compound lifts to strengthen my entire nervous system.”
Whilst sparring and lifting is hard enough, one of the biggest challenges any fighter will face in the lead up to a bout will be cutting weight and making the weight limit.
Standing at 1.98m, Luke is very tall for the weight limit of middleweight (84kg) and whilst it gives him a reach advantage over his opponents, it means he has more weight to drop which can be very taxing on the body.
In preparation for this, Luke incorporates three sessions of sprint training a week in order to drop the weight as well as a strict diet including abandoning dairy and gluten to aid in the weight drop. Combining this with dietary guidance from Mike Dolce, he’s managed to find a natural ability to make weight safely, something which doesn’t come easily to many fighters as seen with the continued inability to make weight with fighters such as Johny Hendricks and Kelvin Gastelum.
On the 11th, Luke faces another middleweight champion in Khalidov who he labels a ‘crafty veteran’ of the sport, and he believes it will be his best fight to date.
“I'm a man built for 5 round fights. I have the cardio and the will power but this is only 3 and Khalidov starts fast so I need to start fast too and go full speed the whole fight. I know I can go five rounds no problem, and my cardio is one of my greatest weapons.
“I need to stay disciplined, use my youth against him, maintain a high tempo and high work rate whilst staying out of trouble.
“I’m the best I’ve ever been whilst Khalidov holds the greatest records I’ve faced, so it’s perfect timing.”
The sport of MMA has grown internationally at an incredible rate, and with ACB promoting the card in Manchester as a card stacked with local talent, Luke believes that ACB as a promotion aren’t getting enough credit.
“For the card is stacked from top to bottom with talent and every fight is a great fight.
“ACB are doing wonders for the sport in Europe and don't get enough credit for it. I am proud to be spearheading the first ACB event in England and I hope it opens the flood gates for many more!”
With that in mind Luke believes that the sport isn’t yet as big as it should be, nor does he believe it will ever get the recognition it deserves from casual fans.
“People become interested in this sport like any sport, for the characters.
“The fans love seeing people talk sh*t, wearing nice clothes and playing up to the society we have around us. Whilst that might become popular, the realism of standing in front of another man and fighting him with every inch of your strength and soul will never be respected by the masses like it should be. They’ll be too interested in all the storylines surrounding the sport. It even took hold of me a little!”
Regardless, Luke will step in to the cage with his family supporting him without caring for the storylines. He has a job to do and he intends to do it.
“I’m here for the rush, for the challenge. For my moment of glory, and to know that my hard work paid off.
“I’ll get that internally when I finish Mamed.”
You can get a glimpse of what to expect on the night below: