Luke Barnatt

This weekend the UFC will visit Berlin, Germany, to host their UFC Fight Night 41 event. The card has quite a few interesting fights on it, but one that particularly sparks my interest is the middleweight showdown between undefeated prospects Luke Barnatt (8-0) and Sean Strickland (14-0).

Both guys are young, talented, up and coming fighters with a lot of potential, but as my colleague Gary Thomas says “someone’s 0 has got to go”. On the flip side, with a good performance the winner of this fight could potentially earn themselves the opportunity to fight someone ranked within the top 15.

Formerly a member of The Ultimate Fighter 17 cast, Luke Barnatt has seen nothing but success since his promotional debut at the reality shows season finale in April 2013, where he scored a unanimous decision win over Collin Hart. Following that, he surprised us all with an impressive second round submission win over Andrew Craig, which earned “Fight of the Night” honors.

Barnatt’s next challenge was 30-year-old fighter Mats Nilson, but Luke made quick work of the Swedish native, finishing him via TKO in the first round. “Bigslow” will no doubt look to carry the momentum from that fight into his upcoming matchup against “Tarzan” this Saturday.

Sean Strickland made his UFC debut earlier this year at UFC 171, where he picked up a first round submission victory over Bubba McDaniel. Prior to joining the UFC, Strickland spent the majority of his professional MMA career fighting for the “King of the Cage” promotion, where he became middleweight champion, defeating notable fighters such as Bill Albrecht, Yusuke Sakashita and Matt Lagler.

Nine of Strickland’s fourteen professional bouts have not made it past the first round. He’s a quick finisher who is dangerous in all areas. Meanwhile, four of Barnatt’s eight pro outings haven’t made it past the first round, so based on these statistics I think it’s safe to say the matchup on Saturday night could be a quick one.

I had a quick look at some of the stats on FightMetric and noticed how well matched these guys are. Although Barnatt appears to land more strikes per minute, Strickland has a slightly better accuracy percentage, which would make up for the lack of volume. It looks like Barnatt will have a 2-inch reach advantage, but I cannot see this causing any major issues for Strickland as Barnatt likes to exchange, rather than keep opponents out of range.

Both men can finish on the ground, which means the fight could go anywhere. I really can’t call this one, but I do think is has “Fight of the Night” potential and I cannot wait to see what happens.

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