Not much to write home about in this cagey performance from both men, but Sean Strickland did enough to outpoint Luke Barnatt by split decision.
Barnatt flicking out the jab and attempting leg kicks to start as he looks to establish his range.
A minute in and nobody’s really landed meaningfully as yet. Strickland lands a leg kick. Barnatt continues to swat at the air in front of Strickland and the crowd start to get a little restless.
Barnatt with a couple of light body kicks. Strickland with one to the leg. He gets another one that puts Barnatt slightly off-balance.
Strickland continues to chop to the leg from time to time. Strange round for Barnatt, he hasn’t really found his range as of yet.
Strickland with a nice little punching combination in the final minute and perhaps that wakes Barnatt up a little and he lands a couple of kicks as an underwhelming round of fighting comes to a close.
Barnatt flicking out the double jab and Strickland catches him on the counter. Body kick for Barnatt and Strickland lands some hard shots to the face and then moves in for a takedown.
He gets the bigger man down and starts to work from there, but Barnatt uses his long legs to push him off and get back up.
Strickland rushes in and presses him against the cage, but soon after they break apart and reset. Another light body kick for Barnatt and a couple of extra ones to the legs.
Both men land a punch at the same time, whipping their heads back. Another connects for Strickland.
Barnatt with some strikes and then works into the clinch against the cage, but they don’t stay there.
Barnatt starting to back Strickland a bit and a straight right lands for him. Another good right hand for Barnatt lands clean and he just misses with an uppercut.
Strickland not so elusive now and Barnatt’s warming up to the contest. Another right hand lands for him, but then one comes back in return for Strickland and gives Barnatt pause for thought.
Barnatt back to pressing forward as the round comes to a conclusion and he’s got a little blood coming from his nose now.
Barnatt pushing the pace again to start the third, but a couple of punches land for strickland. Strickland’s been on the back foot for a lot of this fight and that might be a worry for him if the fight goes to the judges. He’s also got a little blood on his right cheek now.
Not too much action here and the crowd is restless again. Good punch for Strickland lands, but Barnatt’s undeterred.
Barnatt thinks about a spinning attack, but pulls out of it. However he does land a good straight right instead.
Strickland spins to Barnatt’s back and tries to hop on to him, but Barnatt shrugs him off as they go to the mat and try to jockey for position. Strickland thinking about a leg lock attempt, but Barnatt is able to stand up and get away.
Couple of shots from Barnatt. In the final 30 seconds now and Barnatt’s still pressing forward, but strickland lands a one-two. Strickland stumbles near the cage under pressure from a kick from Barnatt.
Bit of a dissapointing fight then and it leads to a split decision verdict with Strickland’s counter striking on the back foot deemed to be more significant than Barnatt’s forward pressure by two of the three judges to hand him the victory (29-28, 30-27, 28-29).
In the Octagon after the fight Strickland was indicating that he believes he broke his hand during the fight.