The Next Big Thing In Combat Sports?
Last month, the inaugural event for stateside bare-knuckle boxing promotion ‘Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship’ went down, entitled ‘BKFC 1: The Beginning’, and if you missed it, you missed quite the show. And now possibly from that success we are starting to see several other bare-knuckle promotions pop up in the states and the question is, is bare-knuckle boxing here to stay or is it just a flash in the pan?
Of course, bare-knuckle boxing is far from being a new sport and has been around for centuries. The concept has actually been pretty popular over in the UK for quite some time now with several promotions and fighters already making names for themselves.
But now, it seems the once often thought of as seedy, underground sport has crossed the pond and we are starting to see quite a lot of former MMA fighters, who may perhaps be a little past their prime, enter the bare-knuckle arena.
At the inaugural BKFC event last month, we saw several former UFC and Bellator fighters throw down and some had some success and others not so much. For instance, Bec Rawlings, former UFC strawweight and TUF competitor, fought that night and won via TKO in the second round and looked great against an opponent with several professional boxing fights already to her name.
Former UFC heavyweight champion, Ricco Rodriguez, also fought that night in the main event and picked up a decision win despite looking rather old. However, it was Joey Beltran and opponent, Tony Lopez, who stole the show that night and put on a brutal, bloody war of carnage that was everything you could expect from a bare-knuckle contest and is almost akin to the epic Stephan Bonnar vs. Forrest Griffin fight from that first season of TUF.
Most likely due to the success of that card, it seems as if BKFC is here to stay as its second event is scheduled to take place next month on August 25 featuring Bec Rawlings and Tony Lopez in return bouts as well as a few other familiar faces from the MMA world including Chris ‘Lights Out’ Lytle (who has competed under bare-knuckle rules before), as well as TUF 3 winner Kendall ‘Da Spyder’ Grove, news of which just came outyesterday.
But also on the horizon in the world of bare-knuckle combat is an interesting bout between ‘retired’ UFC sluggers from different eras – Chris Leben and Phil Baroni, which expected to take place in October under banner ‘World Bare Knuckle Fighting Federation’.
There is also another show called Bare Knuckle Fight Club which is put on by Who’s Your Daddy Productions (no we didn’t make that name up) in Wyoming.
With all of these bare-knuckle promotions popping up and comparing the action and excitement of that first BKFC card to many recent lackluster UFC/MMA cards, bare-knuckle boxing could very well be here to stay and could perhaps be the next big thing in combat sports.
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Kevin Stephenson, former contributor on mixedmartialarts.com and aspiring fiction author