A regular commentator for one of Europe’s stalking horse fight promotions, Absolute Championship Berkut, Luke Barnatt is poised to remind us of his other persona – ‘Bigslow’. Barnatt takes to the cage of the aforementioned fight promotion this Saturday in Manchester, England, where he will clash with arguably one of the most esteemed middleweights outside of the UFC, Mamed Khalidov.
“Mamed Khalidov has been the best middleweight outside the UFC for the last 10 years,” Barnatt told WHOATV. “He’s is the furthest I can reach, he’s the biggest name I can fight, the best name I can clash outside of the UFC. Being outside of the UFC, it is very hard to get meaningful fights.”
Barnatt is fully aware of the implications that a win over Khalidov will bring, but in the course of conversation he is keen to stay in the moment and ensure people are aware that this is not simply a champion–versus–champion fight. While both fighters are belt holders from different fight promotions, there is a lot more at stake this coming Saturday than meets the eye.
“A victory over Mamed Khalidov makes me a three fight promotion champion. It puts me as the champ of Venator, it puts me as a champion of ACB, while this is not a championship fight, ACB do not have a current champion, and it puts me as a champion of KSW. When I win this fight I will be pretty much rule three organizations as a middleweight.”
“It’s the biggest middleweight fight ever seen in Europe. This is a champion versus champion bout. I am the Italian champion under Venator he is the Polish champion under KSW. He is the King of Poland I am the King of Italy and we are now going to England to determine the King of Chechnya.”
“It comes down to perspective; he has a lot more to risk. He’s 37 years old and he has come to a point in his career where risks now need to be taken. Khalidov has been fighting for KSW in Poland in an environment created for him. He’s happy with this fight as it his chance to prove to the West that he is not coming to the end of his fighting career, and to disprove the naysayers.”
“I feel I have a lot of worldwide things to gain. It’s the best opportunity that is available to me on the planet. It’s the best fight you could give me outside of a UFC title shot on short notice. It enables me to prove I am one of the top 15 middleweights in the world. It gives me options and catapults my career.”
Barnatt knows that he could potentially interrupt the plans of Khalidov, who will face KSW’s welterweight champion Borys Mańkowski in a champion–vs–champion matchup in May of this year. And that’s a party he has every intention of spoiling.
“He has a fight lined up on 27th May at KSW’s Colosseum show. If I put the beating on him that I’m planning, he will not be able to fight in seven or eight weeks. When our fight is finished, let’s see if he can make it to Poland.”