ACB 54 headliner Luke Barnatt has defended the decision by a host of the UK’s leading officials to boycott the Russian promotion, as reported by Fighters Only earlier today, but insists he’s still sure the event at the Manchester Arena will go ahead.


The former TUF 17 fighter is due to face KSW’s middleweight champion Mamed Khalidov in the main event on March 11th. And even though ‘Bigslow’ is disappointed some of the UK’s top officials won’t be on hand, he’s focusing on doing his own job when the cage door closes.

Earlier today referees Marc Goddard, Leon Roberts and Dan Movahedi, plus judges David Lethaby, Ben Cartlidge, Mark Collett and Kev Capel released a statement revealing they were boycotting Absolute Championships Berkut events after two results were subsequently overturned from their Vienna card earlier this month.

Barnatt, 28, who first heard of the boycott via Fighters Only, responded: “I completely understand Mark, Dan and Leon’s side for this decision as well as Ben, David and Mark as judges, they are there to complete a task and they have worked on thousands of fights and are by far the best group you can find in Europe to work events.

“I wish they were there judging my fights in Berlin and Texas for the UFC, and I can tell you now those split decisions would of been changed through correct judging and i would be 5-1 in the UFC. I trust all of these men for my safety when I enter the octagon and I hope they can resolve this somehow with ACB, because ACB are changing the MMA scene in Europe and they need the best officials to be part of it to secure their spot as the biggest and best.

“As for the event in Manchester I am sure they can find replacements in the meantime. There are plenty of talented officials in the UK; Ritch Mitchell for me is one of the best working the scene right now. So I’m confident it will either be resolved or replacements will be found, I have faith in the ACB brass.

“I’m sure Khalidov is praying that it causes problems so that he doesn’t have to step into the cage on March 11th… searching for a way out. I’m ready and I’m coming.”

Officials from ACB are still to respond to a Fighters Only request for an official statement.