Luke Barnatt may have made it to the big time a little too quickly. The 27-year-old British middleweight had just five pro fights when he was recruited for the 17th season of the Ultimate Fighter. After being eliminated in the quarter-finals (in the fight of the season), he was given a shot anyway and promptly won three fights in a row. Unfortunately, two split decisions and a clear cut loss followed, and Barnatt was handed his walking papers by the promotion. He spoke about the release on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani earlier this week (via MMA Fighting):
"I completely expected it after the last three that I had. I had a glimmering hope in the back of my mind that they might take into account thefight that was not really a loss. But you know, it's the fight business and I've lost three in a row.
"If the UFC aren't interested and they think I need to go away and win some fights, then I'm not going to beg for my job. I understand where they're at. They have 600+ fighters on the roster. You can't be losing fights."
A semi-forced move to Alliance MMA in San Diego didn't work out for him, for a variety of reasons. Basically he said that he missed having a home, and was living out of a suitcase for a year and a half. So this will give him a chance to find a real team and a real home. So what will be next for "Bigslow"?
"Obviously the power is in my hands, so before I even announced I had been dismissed from the UFC, I contacted quite a few [promotions]," Barnatt said.
"I'm just weighing out all my options. I'm getting all of the offers in and I'm going to pick the best one that suits me the best. One of the great things about not being with the UFC is you have a little bit more power, you know? You have more choice. You're the fighter, it's up to you. You're the boss. When you're with the UFC, it doesn't really work like that. You wait for the phone and if it calls, it's great. If it rings, it's great. But when you're outside the UFC, you have a bit more power. So I'm going to negotiate my way through and find the best option for me."
He then reflected on his brief career, and says that he has no regrets about how it has played out thus far:
"If you look at my career, I started mixed martial arts when I was 21 years old," Barnatt said. "I never did anything else before that. I didn't do boxing, Thai boxing, anything. I just went into MMA. It was only six years ago, so within six years I had some fights, turned pro in 2011 in September, and got to the UFC faster than anyone I know. I got there very, very quickly and had a good little run, and I think, to be honest, it was just a bit too early for me. I did it all very quickly and I took to it quite well.
"I don't regret a thing I've done," Barnatt continued. "I think I've had a fantastic journey. Getting let go by the UFC, a lot of people see it as failure. It's failing in an aspect, but it's not like a negative thing for me. I think it's just part of the journey. It's something I need to do. It's something I need to go through.
"I've been to great places. I've traveled the world, I've fought on three different continents in the UFC, and I feel like I've really been a good ambassador for them across Europe and all over. So I'm very, very proud of it and I wouldn't change it for anything. I've tasted what I want to do. I've tasted my dream. I just need to make sure I get back there."