Mansour “Tarzan” Barnaoui (11-2 MMA) shocked the UK MMA world when he stole the show at BAMMA 13 by defeating Curt “War” Warburton in devastating fashion and become the BAMMA World Lightweight Champion. Following his title victory Barnaoui was matched up with another former UFC fighter in Colin Fletcher at BAMMA 14. But again Mansour overwhelmed his opponent and submitted Fletcher inside the first round. Since then Mansour has taken to social media in an attempt to call out a few fellow Lightweights and wasn’t overly impressed with the Cage Warriors Lightweight Title fight between his previous opponent Curt Warburton and Stevie Ray (see below).
With no announcements made for his next bout I pose the question. Who is next for the BAMMA World Lightweight Champion?
Andre Winner (19-8-1 MMA)
Barnaoui has fired some shots over twitter towards Winner claiming that he has been ducking him and so this fight seems like the most logical fight for Jude to make. Winner lost a K1 bout at the weekend to Colin Fletcher but has won his last four MMA bouts, granted three of them where on the same night. Winner has only lost twice since being released from the UFC back in 2011 and both of those losses came via decision. I think this fight makes really good sense and also poses Barnaoui with his third UFC veteran in a row which only helps to build him as a solid champion. Size will be a huge factor as Barnaoui is a huge Lightweight and it wouldn’t surprise me if he adopted the same game plan as he did in his last two fights in which he completely run through his opponents. Winner would need to weather the early storm and pick off Barnaoui with his jab and utilise his excellent Muay Thai to maintain the distance. A fight I would certainly be interested in watching and Barnaoui would be silly to write off the former UFC fighter.
Jack Grant (7-1 MMA)
This one might be a bit of a hard sell for BAMMA considering that Grant lost his last fight for the promotion but since that fight he went on to pick up a win by, wait, hold on…….Calf Slicer. Grant is a great prospect and I think that his loss at BAMMA 15 to Jefferson George will only motivate him to come back bigger and better and hopefully his last fights ending is a testament to that. Grant was on a six fight win streak until his loss at BAMMA 15 which included a KO win over Jason “Daddy Cool” Ball. He has a strong wrestling background and is getting better with his strikes which for me would be the key in this fight. Barnaoui is a great striker and throws punches in bunches and also presses forward so Grant would have to look to mitigate that and find a way to takedown the big Lightweight. Grant reminds me of Rory MacDonald in his overall game with a methodical way of striking and I genuinely see him as being a star in the future. A matchup with Barnaoui would certainly be a great step in the right direction for his career.
Ryan Scope (8-0 MMA)
Scope currently competes at Welterweight but he isn’t a huge dude and so I suspect he could make the cut to Lightweight without too much difficulty. Scope has proved his worth racking up eight wins on the bounce and looked good last time out against the ever durable Ali Arish. The fight with Arish was the first time the youngster has been taken the full fifteen minutes but he showed he can hack it even with a injured foot which he sustained during the fight. Prior to that fight he had a 100% stoppage record with three TKO/KO’s and four submissions. Mansour also has a great stoppage rate so we could certainly expect something special if these two ever entered the cage. This fight would be excellent for both fighters careers and would help make their stamp on the UKMMA Lightweight scene. If Scope does make the drop to Lightweight I see BAMMA pushing him for a title shot so this one may not be too far away. I suspect the only factor would be whether or not he would make the weight drop as he is currently having enough success at 170lbs.
Michael Pastou (9-2-1 MMA)
Perhaps the most farfetched prospective bout due to Pastou stepping away from the fight game since the end of 2011 but a fun fight none the less. Pastou spent his career with Cage Rage / UCMMA other than his first professional bout which was for Intense Fighting against John Maguire. During his stint with UCMMA he picked up wins over Jake Bostwick, Jamaine Facey and Dominic Plumb to name but a few. Given Pastou’s inactivity Mansour would be a big favourite going into this one but you can never count Pastou out of any fight. We could certainly expect fireworks as these two 155lbers love to swing and the fight could be won or lost in the stand up exchange. Again not a fight I expect to see signed anytime soon but a fight I would love to watch.
Hopefully you guys have enjoyed the article but if you have any other suggestions/comments/feedback please let me know on twitter @mmanarchy or on the WHOATV facebook page facebook.com/whoatv