Professional mixed martial artist Luke Barnatt describes making his UFC debut.
“On the way to the cage that day, I was trying to control my nerves. I remember seeing one of my old coaches in the crowd. I’m in Vegas to fight another man to the death, so to speak, and I just start crying. I was so overcome with emotion. But I had to get my fight face on and get the job done.
Getting in the cage, you see this man you’ve been visualising for three months. But at that point the feelings and emotions disappear. I’m focusing on myself and look through my opponent.
I believe if I give a great performance, I can beat any man on the planet. But if the guy across the cage has a great performance, you have a good fight on your hands. I have had a fight where I felt a world-beater, but got taken out in one punch. It is the most devastating thing. Nobody sees the preparation. Just that you have been beaten.
A fight can last a few seconds or 15 minutes. There is pain, but you are so focused, so full of adrenaline, you don’t really feel it. You could hit me all day, but the leg kicks are something else. To kick someone in the shin is so painful.
You have a moment when you catch your opponent and you can feel them crumble. Fighting is 100 per cent mental. At my level, everyone is good, so it is about keeping your mentality strong. When you feel that chink in their armour, you go on the attack.
Winning is a great feeling because, after all that hard work, you have a feeling of dominance and elation. I have had fights where I was not expected to win. But when you do, it’s life-changing.
My UFC debut was on my 25th birthday, I was in Vegas and I won. Then I went out and won $5,000. I got in at 8am the next day with a stinking hangover, my body in stupid amounts of pain, barely able to walk, with my bed covered in casino chips. It was probably the best 24 hours I’ve had.”