Dan Hardy column: Luke Barnatt has a long career ahead of him, he'll be competing at the top for years to come

British UFC welterweight and UFC commentator, Dan Hardy, provides some insight in to promising British middleweight, Luke Barnatt, ahead of his appearance inside the Octagon in Austin this weekend

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The Independent Online

On November 22nd in Austin, Texas, two British fighters will step into the world famous UFC Octagon to do battle. Accompanying long-serving UFC and WEC veteran Brad Pickett, we have a dangerous middleweight prospect on the bill. At a huge 6'6", Luke 'Bigslow' Barnatt, looms over most of his division. 

Coming off a disappointing loss to Sean Strickland back at UFC Fight Night Berlin at the end of May, Barnatt, originally from Cambridge, will be looking to get back to winning ways as he faces Roger Narvaez in Austin. Speaking plainly just a few hours after his last loss in Berlin, Barnatt admitted getting frustrated by Strickland’s counter-fighting style, and found himself chasing his opponent to get the fight going.  

He has a very analytical mind when assessing his performances and should have no problem taking his first defeat in his lengthy stride. His height advantage is something he is just now coming to grips with, and it can be a valuable weapon when the mechanics of it are understood. He could make the Octagon very small for anyone that wants to test his kickboxing skills. 

With his Ultimate Fighter experience (The Ultimate Fighter is the TV show produced by the UFC to discover new fighting talent), Luke has developed very quickly. As the first pick on season 17 of the programme, by former middleweight contender Chael Sonnen, his potential was clearly visible from the start. At 26 years of age, Barnatt still has a long career ahead of him and I’m sure his physical attributes coupled with his work ethic, will surely see him competing at the top of the sport for years to come.


His submission win over Andrew Craig was a good example of his grappling skills, but it was the pinpoint accuracy of his striking in the bout with Mats Nilsson that really showed where he is most comfortable. He caught Nilsson early with stiff jabs, backing him up, then slowly increased his work rate before setting up a head kick that put Nilsson on wobbly legs. It was a ferocious combination against the fence, finished with a sharp knee to the face that forced the referee to step in. 

Since his last bout he has been traveling and training, expanding his skill set and sharpening his repertoire. Working with the San Diego based fight team, Alliance MMA, alongside other standouts such at Kelvin Gastelum, Phil Davis and Alexander Gustafsson. He will surely be well prepared to take on the Texan Roger Narvaez, who will no doubt have the home state support. 

With an impressive win here we can expect to see 'Bigslow' performing on the main card next year in Europe. The preliminary fights will be starting at midnight in the UK with the main card starting at 3am. Make yourself a cup of tea and tune in on UFC Fight Pass