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

There was a couple of villains at BAMMA 28 in Belfast on Friday night, but none bigger than Tim Barnett. The Liverpool native took on hometown favourite Rhys McKee for the Lonsdale lightweight title on less than two weeks notice as a rather sizeable underdog.

But at 4:58 of round one, Barnett had shocked and silenced the crowd. Even with the quick

Barnett spoke with MMA Plus after his title win, and admitted even with the quick finish he found it his toughest test to date.

“I knew it would be a tough fight, I really did. I knew it would be my toughest test and it probably was. I mean although it only went in the first round the guy’s got heart and he brings a lot to the cage.”

Tim Barnett talks hostile Belfast crowd

The crowd had been hostile to all opposition fighters and it was no different for Barnett. But he was able to block it out and get on with the job at hand.

“I was just fully focused on the fight,” explained Barnett to MMA Plus. “I didn’t focus on the crowd whatsoever, in fact as I was standing in there and they were playing Rhys’s video I was just trying to block the noise out and I just took everything in and looked around and tried to enjoy the moment.”

McKee was a man with a lot of hype around him coming into this fight. A puzzle that no one had been able to figure out. Barnett and his coach Jason Tan felt the clinch was the way to victory, and they were proven to be right.

He explained: “No I thought it would go like that. I thought he would bring a lot to the table and he did, but I just felt that the X-Factor in that fight was the clinch. My coach Jason Tan, he called that.

“Listen you’re going to have the power advantage over this guy in the clinch and I mean that’s where we ended up and that’s where the fight got finished so yeah I’m happy. As I was hitting him with the body shots at the end I heard a ‘HUH’ and once I heard that noise I tried to swarm a bit.”

Barnett credits Jason Tan’s gameplan  

When fighters get in the clinch, knees to the body are a very popular weapon. Barnett saw an opportunity for something different and went with uppercuts to the body. And they won him the fight.

“Yeah it was just something I saw so I took the opportunity I landed the first one and I felt my hands sink really deep into his organs, which sounds a bit horrible doesn’t it? Believe me, I’m not like that. When I heard him make that noise I went for the finish. I just want to be in and out of there as fast as possible.”

In a time when combat sport is getting dominated by trash talk, it was refreshing to see Barnett talk highly of McKee, who he thinks will be back bigger and better.

“Listen I wish Rhys all the best for the future he’s a fantastic lad and a fantastic fighter and he’ll still go far. Listen in life you get handed lessons at specific times and this one’s unfortunately for him come at this time, but I know for a fact he’ll be back better because of this.”