Our TUF Experience (Part 3): Chris Fields would “happily” take fight with Luke Barnatt in Dublin

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Exiting the The Ultimate Fighter 19 after suffering a decision loss to Matt Van Buren, Team Penn member Chris Fields spoke to PETER CARROLL about his overall experience on the UFC’s reality TV platform and what he hopes to do next.

Chris “The Killing” Fields ended his TUF 19 journey this week in what Dana White described as an “uneventful” contest. Unquestionably effective, his opponent Matt Van Buren’s grinding display was far from a spectacle, but the SBG man took nothing away from his fellow competitor when contemplating his exit.

“The guy just wanted to clinch the whole time we were in there,” said Fields of Van Buren’s tactics. “He was a little bit bigger and a little bit stronger than me. It wasn’t a great fight but I can’t knock his game plan, he got the win in the end.

“I thought that both rounds were pretty close, but I was probably a bit too comfortable with my back against the cage in round one.

“The second round was even closer. I connected with a solid right hand, but when I couldn’t lock up the guillotine and he came out on top I knew the decision could go against me. I thought I had it fairly tight before I jumped guard but as soon as I hit the ground I thought ‘shit, I’ve just made a huge mistake’.

“It’s just the way I’ve always fought though, I don’t want to be decisioning people. Anyone that’s seen me fight knows that I always go out there to entertain the crowd, I’d rather lose an exciting fight than win a boring one. It’s just unfortunate that in this case I lost a boring fight and Dana White was sitting there watching it.”

Fighting at light-heavyweight for the purposes of the competition, the former Cage Warriors middleweight champion went on to highlight an insight into his own style he gained from the two round fight.

“It just seems like all of these wrestlers are my arch-nemeses, it’s something that I’ve had trouble with in the past but I’ll learn from the mistakes I made in the two fights in the house.

“I’ve got a team of great wrestlers in SBG and it’s something that I know needs work, but I’m 6’ 4, that’s a whole lot of leg for people to attack,” he said.

The TUF platform offers the unique experience of living with your opponents, something that Fields admitted wasn’t ideal. The SBG man also shared his thoughts on his spat with Van Buren leading up to their fight.

Fields said: “Cathal is the same as me in the way that I usually don’t like to see my opponents that much before a fight. It makes it tougher not to get sucked into a back and forth when I was living in the same house as this guy and I could hear him talking about me.

“Like any other Irish person I just couldn’t listen to him saying those things so I had to call him on it. I’m not a guy that gets caught up in shite-talk in the media and stuff, but when I’m fighting at home I can always go and talk to my friends and say ‘that guy is an asshole or I’m going to break his face’, or whatever.

“The fact that they have cameras on you the whole time means that everyone will see you saying all that kind of stuff and I suppose that’s what we’re in there for. The show is based around those kinds of things.

“Originally TUF brought guys into a house and gave them training that they would’ve never been exposed to otherwise. Everyone is full-time now when they go in there and they all would give anything to get that contract. Little arguments are bound to happen.”

Looking back at his time in the house, Fields underlined the end to his elimination fight with Josh Stansbury as a source of some disappointment. A win largely taken away from Fields on the episode’s broadcast despite his history of finishing opponents with leg kicks, Stansbury’s knee injury deemed the American unable to continue and ended the bout in the first round.

“The most disappointing thing for me is that the first fight didn’t continue. Whatever people are saying about Josh Stansbury getting the better of me, yeah he caught me, but I got back up and I was landing shots and he was running out of gas quickly towards the end.

“That fight was just about to get very interesting but his knee went out, I had been kicking the guy in the legs throughout the fight. I’m sure I would’ve been able to put him away if that didn’t happen.

“So overall, I’m not happy but that’s not strange for me. I’m never happy with my performances. The day I look at one of my fights and say ‘that was perfect’, that’ll be the day I hang up my gloves,” he said.

With UFC Fight Night 46 set to land in the Dubliner’s hometown next month, Fields explained what fighting in front of an Irish crowd would mean to him.

“I’m a very proud Irishman,” he said. “I don’t do the whole tricolour thing, I just never have, but when people look at me and speak to me they know where I’m from. I love the sport that I do and if I got the opportunity to perform in front of my home crowd it would be an unbelievable experience.”

Some Irish MMA fans have taken exception to tongue-in-cheek comments from Luke Barnatt who has launched a fair share of jibes toward the Emerald Isle and the protagonist of the new generation of the Fighting Irish, Conor McGregor.

To add to that, the rangy Englishman also claimed on the MMA Roasted Podcast that he would have no problem fighting an Irish middleweight if the opportunity presented itself, in an interview from April.

Barnatt said: “There’s more money in my bedroom than the whole of Ireland, it’s ridiculous. If magically they found some middleweight from Ireland that was good enough for the UFC then I’d fight him.”

When posed as a prospective opponent, Fields insisted he would take any bout offered to him for the card and that he would “happily” trade leather with ‘the Bigslow’.

“Nothing has been offered to me but if I was asked about a fight with Luke Barnatt I would dive all over that,” he said. “Nothing has been said to me about it and I know that Luke is only saying those things about Conor and Ireland to get a bit of attention.

“I’ve met Luke before and he seems to be a nice guy, but this is a sport and anything that is sent my way by the UFC, I’ll definitely take it. I wouldn’t turn down anyone.

“I am looking to move back down to middleweight and Luke would be a good challenge for me. He’s generally exciting and he looks to finish. He’s taller and less good looking than me, but I think people would still like to see that fight and I’d happily take it,” he said.

@PetesyCarroll

UPDATE: Luke Barnatt responds…

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Peter Carroll is Severe MMA's lead feature writer. He has been featured in many top publications and some rubbish ones too. He also writes for the Irish Daily Mirror and Vice's Fightland.