Hemsworth mixed martial arts fighter Scott Askham put the disappointment of being released by the UFC firmly behind him as he produced a big performance to beat Luke Barnatt in a contest dubbed the “Battle of Britain”.
In a top of the bill middleweight bout at the Sheffield Arena, Askham enjoyed home advantage to emerge as the convincing winner. He had to go the distance, but won all three rounds on all bar one of the judges cards to huge acclaim from the Askham army who made themselves heard in the big venue.
The Hemsworth man was taking part in a promotion put on by the Russian-based ACB company and the fight was regarded as one of the biggest domestic match-ups in the history of the sport, being years in the making.
Having both been at the top of the British middleweight scene for more than four years, both men finally met inside the cage to settle their differences. Both have competed in the UFC, with Askham’s stint coming to an end earlier this year and Barnatt’s run ending in 2015.
A war of words between the fighters before the contest showed there was no love lost between them, but Askham emphatically proved he was the better man last Saturday.
Spurred on by the home crowd, the Hemsworth man quickly took control in the first round with a stiff left quickly giving his opponent a taste of his power. Further big punches found their target and a big kick connected to the midsection with Askham showing some great speed.
The pattern continued in the second round with Askham having more success with some slick work on defence and attack. The noise level went up several notches when Barnatt was wobbled by a right hand. He also suffered a cut above his eye and was showing the scars of battle, while the Yorkshireman looked much the fresher.
Barnatt needed a knockout in the final round, but had to survive for the first half of it. He did produce a spirited finish, but left it too late to affect the result, the five judges scoring it 30-27, 28-29, 30-27, 30-27, 30-27.
Askham was delighted with his performance.
He said: “Luke Barnatt calling me out when I had just come out of the UFC was the fight I needed.
“I didn’t get the results I wanted in the UFC and it left a bad taste in my mouth. I know I am at this level so to come out and put on a performance in Sheffield, in front of my home crowd is exactly what I needed.
“I enjoyed every second of it. I really enjoyed the build-up, back and forth. He thought he was in my mind, but he wasn’t and I was chomping at the bit.”