CHAMPION fighter Rob Sinclair believes he has cemented his status as the best unsigned lightweight in the world after a hard-fought victory against Andre Winner.
The Burnley native defended his world championship crown against the four-time UFC veteran Winner in a thrilling fight at Bamma 10 at London’s Wembley Arena.
Despite being the underdog in the eyes of many pundits, Sinclair dispatched the highly-rated Team Rough House product via a split decision.
But the 32-year-old, who considered retiring from Mixed Martial Arts altogether earlier this year, felt he won the fight convincingly and hopes this latest victory could earn him a shot at the big time.
Speaking about the epic five round battle with Winner, he said: “Except for his last fight in the UFC where he got battered, I don’t think anyone has done him as much damage as I did.
“If Andre Winner threw a shot and I threw a shot - mine were to hurt him and to finish him.
“I don’t think he looked to engage or come forward. He was just waving his arms around. You can do that all day.
“When you look back at the fight, the crucial shots were mine.”
Before the fight, “C4” Sinclair said his only gameplan was to knock Winner out. He may not have scored the KO, but Sinclair felt he landed the bigger and better shots on his opponent.
“Everything I’ve hit him with hurts - my shins, my fists, my elbows and my knees.
“But I’ve got no bumps on my head, no bruised ribs or sore legs.
“He didn’t land a lot.
“I blocked and checked and slipped a lot of his shots. And at the end of the fight he just clipped me. I was going backwards and he just clipped me but I was never hurt at that point.”
He added: “I thought I won pretty convincingly.”
The victory was Sinclair’s third Bamma world title defence and he has not been defeated in the cage since 2009.
“I have beaten Andre Winner now. He is a world class fighter - and I fight part time,” said Sinclair who works as a British Gas engineer by day.
He pointed to wins against Winner and Daniel Weichel and a debatable loss to UFC star Paul Sass as proof of his fighting calibre.
“They have all been in the top three in Europe. I have beaten two of them and lost on a split decision to Paul Sass, which arguably I have won. They are top European fighters.”
His latest triumph at Bamma 10, which was broadcast live on Channel 5 Star and beamed across the Atlantic to America and Canada, has certainly turned heads in the business.
“I have had interest from the USA and major sponsors.The words described to me by one promotion were ‘if you beat Andre Winner you will be regarded as the best lightweight prospect in the world.
“Without a doubt it’s my dream to give up work and fight full-time and be able to support my family more and treat them more.
“But all I need to do is stay humble and train hard.”
Sinclair’s next fight could be against three-time UFC veteran Curt Warburton who earned a title shot by beating Lee Wieczorek at Bamma 10.