Tim Barnett, BAMMA 28. BAMMA / Marc Moggridge 2017. No unauthorised use without written consent.

Newly crowned BAMMA Lonsdale Lightweight champ Tim Barnett will make his first title defense against experienced veteran Mario Saeed at the Genting Arena in Birmingham on May 12 at BAMMA 29. The Liverpool native won the title in spectacular fashion with a 1st round TKO finish over top prospect Rhys McKee in Belfast in February.

The Liverpudlian spoke to the OldFirmMMA podcast at the beginning of March discussing the possibility of fighting on the Birmingham card. The lightweight champ just wanted to get back into the cage ASAP.

Barnett (4-0) will have the chance to showcase his skills in front of his home crowd this time around after venturing into enemy territory in Belfast, but the young MMA Academy fighter doesn’t feel it’s a massive advantage. Being the new champ would bring expectations to any fighter, but Barnett is different. It’s all about the personal challenge.

“Being the champion doesn’t affect me at all. I really don’t fight for ego or status I fight to see what I’m capable of. Along the way of course you’ll get more eyes on you and recognition etc, but although I massively appreciate the sport that’s not why I started doing it”,revealed Barnett.

“It’s always been a test to see what situations I can put myself in that are challenging to me as a person and overcome them each time and grow in life. I even do it socially, with the cold etc the Whim Hof stuff; I try and challenge myself in every area of life I’m in. So fighting in Belfast actually appealed to me more because it was more fear to face and more growth to add. It will be nice having more of my friends and family etc coming to support me, but again, this fight is to test me on a personal level to see what both I and my martial arts training can overcome.”

As for the opponent, Barnett again doesn’t take much heed of who he faces. It’s all about the mental and physical challenge.

“I have to be honest I rarely focus on who and what the opponent can do. I fight more to find things out about myself and how far I can go and fears I can face etc. The people I fight along the way are lessons and I learn so much from every single fight I have. It doesn’t matter who’s in front of me because the same things will always happen. I’ll try and get in and figure a way to finish the opponent standing opposite that’s always my game plan in any fight.”