MMA is by far the fastest evolving combat sport these days, more and more people take up the sport and from time to time we see the super talented athletes making it to the top. Jon Jones became UFC champion only after three years of MMA, Chris Wideman is in the top ten only after three years in the sport and then there are others singed by smaller but high level promotions who demonstrate fantastic talent and great potential. Some of them I had the pleasure to work with, meet or simply watch fight; athletes like Arnold Billy Allen , Wendle Lewis, John Maguire and Jack Mason are among some of the super-talented MMArtists who will definitely go very far in their career.
But is it all natural talent as many people seem to suggest? Is it true that these athletes are luckier than others and have some sort of advantage? Often is easy to fall in the trap of drawing these types of conclusions without digging a little deeper first.
The Luke “Big Slow” Barnatt case
I had the tremendous opportunity to work and train with MW Luke “Big Slow” Barnatt, a MW pro MMArtist with a Pro record of 5-0 and a semi-pro record of 8-1. Luke is one of those athletes who will go very far in his MMA career, one who will most definitely make it in the UFC and one of those who many will one day call “overnight sensations”.
Our lives are entirely shaped by the choices we make daily, some choices are painful today and will lead to pleasure tomorrow, some others are pleasurable today but may not lead to as much reward in the future.
Most people tend to make choices which allow them to live a fairly comfortable life both today and in the future; few people make poor choices today which may provide happiness now but lead to poorer outcomes in the future and even fewer ones make choices which may be painful today but can potentially lead to greatness tomorrow. The latter type of people are the Future Champions; champions in sport, champions in business, academia or whatever other avenue they have chosen.
Over the past year or so and have been granted access to some of the life-style, training and routines that Luke Barnatt follows in order to grow as MMA athlete. This closeness to Luke allowed me to learn about some of his choices, the choices that put him in the category of “Future Champions” described above. To name only a few choices that Barnatt has made:
- Luke has left comfortable circumstances, gave up his business and gave up on a reliable financial income to become a full time Mixed Martial Artist. This sounds a lot more fan on paper than it does in real life. Since that moment, “Big Slow” has spent most of his awaken time, and often his asleep time too, in the gym.
- He didn’t go on holidays, he chose to go to Thailand to refine is Thai-Boxing or to Sweden to train with top level athletes or to The States to train with other elite athletes.
- He did not go out most weekends, he spent them training or recovering from training.
- Luke didn’t use the money that he made with his fights and with the private one2one sessions to buy a car, he chose to use the money to look after his body and mind, one2one sessions with top coaches and training gear.
- Originally from Essex, Luke did not even use the money to rent an apartment near Tsunamy Fight Centre in Cambridge, where he trains, he chose to sleep in the gym instead and use the money to pay for privates and anything that would contribute to the achievement of his dream.
- When Luke isn’t training he doesn’t spend his time in leisure, he chooses to coach and corner other athletes which is one of the most powerful ways to learn even more about the sport.
- I have seen Luke coaching beginners and he does so with the same passion that he coaches pro athletes; his integrity and professional approach wasn’t in his DNA, he chose to work for it.
- Furthermore Luke chose to accept whatever fights he was given, the harder the opponent, the better; not because he was naïve, overconfident or careless, but because he wanted to test his skills against the best challenger. He took no shortcut and chose the only path to greatness: vision, hard work, consistency and passion.
But why am I on about this? Many other people work hard and do great things so why all this fuss about Luke Barnatt?
This article is hopefully a wakeup call for those who talk about “overnight sensations”, “naturally gifted athletes” and “freaks of nature”. This article is an invite to take responsibility over your future, an invite to stop focusing on what others have, on what life gives us and focus more on what we can do for ourselves; on the actions that we can take today to get closer to our goal tomorrow.
Ultimately, this article is an invite to understand the power that you have deep within, the power to literally choose what you want to be, have or do because I truly believe that you can become whoever you want and do whatever you want… if you make the right choices today.
Luke Barnatt has made all the right choices so far and will continue to do so and not because I say so, not because he has to but only because he chooses to!
SPORTS311 “Visual Performance” are proud sponsors of Luke Barnatt. SPORTS311 is the sector of our agency that focusses on athletes and action sports. Our agency is FACTORY31. Photography by TOM FRAUD (www.tomfraud.com)