British middleweight fighter Luke ‚ÄėBigslow‚Äô Barnatt may have one of the most unusual nicknames in the mixed martial arts community, but don‚Äôt let his comical moniker fool you. Barnatt is a physically intimidating warrior, standing at 6‚Äô6‚ÄĚ, and has an impressive 4-0 record that he has amassed in under a year.
Fighters Only spoke exclusively with Luke at Tsunami Gym in the south of England where he is helping his friend and teammate Tommy Maguire prepare for his upcoming bout against Mark Glover at BAMMA 10 on September 15th.
FO: How would you describe the experience training at Tsunami?
‚ÄúI think Tsunami is one of the closest teams. We‚Äôre quite small; I think there‚Äôs only about five or six [pro fighters] that make up Tsunami Gym. We‚Äôre quite a formidable gym now when it comes to the semi-pro guys, but when it comes to the pros there‚Äôs only about five or six of us that train together.
‚ÄúThe facility itself doesn‚Äôt make the gym; it‚Äôs the people involved and we‚Äôre all really close. Me, Tommy and John Maguire, we all live at the gym Monday to Friday so [the training is] quite intense. We‚Äôre always here and we‚Äôre very focused on what we do.
2With Tommy [Maguire] coming up to BAMMA we‚Äôre focused on Tommy‚Äôs fight and getting it done. It‚Äôs intense, that‚Äôs how I‚Äôd describe training here because it‚Äôs full-on all the time. From the moment you wake up until the moment you go to sleep you‚Äôre in the gym, so it‚Äôs hard work.‚ÄĚ
FO: You have a very unusual nickname. Where did ‚ÄėBigslow‚Äô come from?
‚ÄúIt came about when I first started MMA, about three or four years ago. When I first started training at Tsunami Gym Jack Mason brought me up and I was a bit scared of training almost; the intimidating feeling when you first come into the gym and there‚Äôs these scary guys trying to beat you up. That‚Äôs the feeling you have in your head when it‚Äôs not really like that at all.
‚ÄúWhen I turned up I was a bit shy and quiet. The Maguire‚Äôs are quite vocal. We like to insult each other quite a lot but I didn‚Äôt know that at the time. My first session with them they were saying to Jack, ‚ÄėHow could you bring this guy up here?‚Äô Just insulting me and I didn‚Äôt know what to say so I was just like, ‚ÄėEerrr,‚Äô and scared.
‚ÄúThey said, ‚ÄėOh look, this guy, he‚Äôs big and he‚Äôs pretty slow as well,‚Äô and it just turned into the Bigslow. They thought there was something mentally wrong with me. There isn‚Äôt but my nickname is basically one big insult.
‚ÄúThey called me the Bigslow for the last four years in the gym and one day they decided to get me announced as it. I just got told, ‚ÄėYou are being called the Bigslow and that is it. There‚Äôs no argument.‚Äô I didn‚Äôt want to be known as the Bigslow because it doesn‚Äôt exactly sound very intimidating but I‚Äôve learned to love it.
‚ÄúI actually do enjoy being a bit different and not having an intimidating nickname or something like that. I‚Äôm quite happy being the Bigslow, I think it describes my character pretty well.‚ÄĚ
FO: Now that Tom Watson has signed with the UFC, the BAMMA middleweight championship is vacant. Do you consider yourself among the top contenders to become the next champion?
‚ÄúIn my mind I‚Äôm definitely in the running for that. I looked up to Tom Watson a lot and I‚Äôve trained with him quite a few times. He‚Äôs a great guy. On the UK scene he was the best domestic middleweight by far, and I think, now he‚Äôs left, I‚Äôve become the best domestic middleweight.
‚ÄúObviously I need to prove that and I‚Äôm only 4-0. There‚Äôs definitely people who are perceived as above me in the rankings but it‚Äôs just about being given the opportunity to fight these guys and prove yourself so that you‚Äôre worthy of these sort of titles.
‚ÄúI feel like I could step in there on September 15th and fight for Tom Watson‚Äôs title against any middleweight in the country and I‚Äôd win, so I feel like I‚Äôm in the runnings. I‚Äôm not sure that BAMMA do. I think BAMMA need me to fight a few more times on the show and build a bit more of a fan base on their promotion.
‚ÄúMy goal is definitely to be the World BAMMA Champion that Tom Watson was at middleweight and I‚Äôve actually got an opponent in mind that I‚Äôd like to fight to prove [myself] and that‚Äôs a guy called Matt Nilsson. He‚Äôs a Swedish fighter and I think he‚Äôs ranked third or fourth in Europe, and that‚Äôs the sort of level that I‚Äôm aiming to compete at; not just the best in the UK but the best in Europe.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs not that I‚Äôve got anything against Matt Nilsson, I just saw him fighting in the UK and he‚Äôs not signed to a bigger promotion. He‚Äôd be a fantastic fight for anyone in the middleweight division on BAMMA and I think, if they could make that happen, it‚Äôd be good for the sport.
‚ÄúThat‚Äôs what BAMMA can showcase. It‚Äôs not just an English show, it‚Äôs a European show, and to prove that you‚Äôre worthy of that sort of title I think you have to beat someone of that calibre. There‚Äôs definitely a few guys in the UK who might deserve a shot in front of me but I‚Äôm chasing that and hopefully I‚Äôll beat them to it.‚ÄĚ
FO: If it was up to you, would you rather contend for the BAMMA championship under a tournament format or would you prefer a single number-one contender fight?
‚ÄúI think tournaments are fantastic for the viewers if the ever work. Cage Warriors tried to do this recently and it‚Äôs been horrendous. Chris Fields is now in the final, even though he‚Äôs lost, due to injury. I don‚Äôt think it‚Äôs a fair way of determining [the best fighter].
‚ÄúI prefer the number-one contender spot and working you‚Äôre way up the rankings. I think that is the best way to do it. Obviously it takes a bit longer, especially for me. I think I‚Äôm [ranked] twenty-second or twenty-third in the country.
‚ÄúI‚Äôd have to win another few fights before I got ranked enough to fight, so a tournament would suit my fight career but, from my personal opinion, I don‚Äôt believe in tournaments in MMA.
‚ÄúThe old school style, where you used to fight three times in one night, maybe that might work because these days, with injuries, it‚Äôs hard to say, ‚ÄėI‚Äôm going to fight three fights, it‚Äôs going to end in a title shot and it‚Äôs going to happen over the next six months,‚Äô or whatever.
‚ÄúCage Warriors have got their final coming up. It‚Äôs Chris Fields against Pavel Kusch and I don‚Äôt believe it‚Äôs really been a fair representation of the people that are involved in the competition. But, you know, it‚Äôs an option.‚ÄĚ
FO: What do you think BAMMA‚Äôs new deal with Channel 5 will do for mixed martial arts in the UK?
‚ÄúBAMMA‚Äôs always been fantastic and every time it‚Äôs aired in the UK it‚Äôs done well because the show is put together so brilliantly and the people that fight on BAMMA are real fighters; they put on a good show. [As for] Channel 5 itself, I think it‚Äôs fantastic because everyone can access It‚Äôs going to make a big impact.
‚ÄúThe one problem BAMMA has had, which hopefully now has been solved and will make it the strongest promotion going, is consistency, especially not being able to be consistently live on TV. There‚Äôs only been two shows a year or so which, although they‚Äôre arena shows and they‚Äôre fantastic, as a fighter it can be frustrating.
‚ÄúIf they can link with Channel 5 and can allow it to build as a promotion and they can have one [event] every two months or at least four times a year it‚Äôs going to be fantastic for UK MMA. They‚Äôll emerge as the next big thing, although they‚Äôre already known as that, but I think there‚Äôll be a big strong belief in BAMMA because there‚Äôs a bit of worry, if you‚Äôre a fighter, if you‚Äôre ever going to fight on there or if [the event is] ever going to happen.
‚ÄúWith Channel 5 behind them I think they‚Äôll nail it and it‚Äôll really help people get into MMA who‚Äôve never seen it before or never hear of it. BAMMA are great with their media, great with advertising their events and pushing fighters forward, and getting them into mainstream media as well.
‚ÄúI think BAMMA will be tenfold stronger if they can keep it with Channel 5 and they can sign the contract for some regular shows. It can only be good for English MMA.‚ÄĚ¬†
- Font Size
- Reading Mode