America's first state-sanctioned bare-knuckle boxing tournament is just around the corner, and we're very excited
The United Kingdom is no stranger to the bloody sport of bare-knuckle boxing, which has been thriving in the country for years together. Other mixed martial arts such as Myanmar's Lethwei has been gaining popularity in several countries.
However, in America, bare combat has always been limited to YouTube knockout videos, sidewalks outside pubs, and street fight clubs. But that's all about to change. The Bare Knuckle Fighting Champions (BKFC) has been granted permission to promote the first legal bare-knuckle bout in the history of the nation since 1889. And it's about to go down in Cheyenne, Wyoming, on June 2, reported the Virginia Pilot.
Featuring MMA veterans such as former Bellator heavyweight Eric Prindle, former boxer Paul Spadafora, and former UFC heavyweight champion Ricco Rodriguez, the BKFC debut is surely looking to be an unprecedented thriller.
Also, rather interestingly, the BKFC is also launching the "first-ever" official women's bare-knuckle match featuring boxer Alma Garcia who would take on former UFC strawweight-turned-flyweight Bec Rawlings - although this news is yet to be verified considering the sport's unpredictable history.
Promising viewers raw, unrestrained action that cannot be witnessed in relatively guarded sports such as traditional boxing or MMA, BKFC asserted in numerous press releases and social media posts that the fighters who would step on the ring are going to go all in, without restrictions.
We can all agree that there is something quite riveting about the sight of naked fists shattering a jawbone, and it is hard to look away when it is happening. That's precisely the reason why the late street fighter Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson caught the attention of several fight enthusiasts and won our hearts.
Right from his early days when he fought unbridled in the alleys of Florida, up until his curtain call as a member of the Bellator roster, Slice was an entertainer through and through.
That being said, the excitement surrounding the show takes a dark turn when we delve deeper. According to Maxim, the problem lies with "the motley crew of mixed martial artists and boxers BKFC has collected for this inaugural event."
Former UFC heavyweight champion Rodriguez is facing difficult times of late. In the golden era of MMA, he briefly held the UFC heavyweight championship, but currently, he has lost five out his last six bouts by technical knockout.
Rodriguez's career looks even murkier when you consider that he fought former UFC middleweight Alex Nicholson at CamSoda Legends, an event that generated notoriety for being the first MMA event to stream live on a porn site, and was knocked out cold. One could be wary whether MMA as an actual sport has its days numbered.
Another sad story is that of Eric Prindle, who lost six of his last ten MMA fixes and is spiraling down rapidly towards the 500 mark with an overall record of 11-9. Prindle once won a heavyweight tournament while fighting in Bellator.
As for Bec Rawlings, it looks like her best days are behind her. She lost all of her last four bouts and was taken off the UFC roster two months ago. While Rawlings is undeniably the top mixed martial artist on this inaugural card in terms of actual ability and relevance, she chose BKFC over the women’s MMA promotion Invicta Fighting Championship. However, one can only speculate as to what the future holds for her.
And finally, we come to the ferocious boxer Paul Spadafora. Maintaining a rock-solid 49-1 professional record in his MMA career, he gained infamy several years ago for allegedly taking down boxing legend Floyd Mayweather in a sparring session.
However, of late, Spadafora has made headlines for all the wrong reasons. He was charged with attempted murder after shooting his pregnant former girlfriend. Although his fighting days are far from over, the villainous figure that he's created for himself is exactly the kind of thing fight promoters try to steer clear of.
Having said that, as a matter of principle, fighters taking part in the BKFC's debut event should only receive as much support as possible. They have scaled monumental heights in the world of combat sports and should be respected for it, especially when they are taking the responsibility of re-introducing an age-old sport that needs sizable recognition in order to thrive in the United States.
Fascinatingly, the BKFC is taking its first step in the land of opportunity at a time when the public interest in mixed-martial arts is dwindling day by day. Franchises such as UFC and Bellator are losing viewership and generating worse sales with every passing bout and they just can't seem to figure a way around it.
It is quite possible that bare-knuckle boxing could be the heir to the combat sports throne, as many fight enthusiasts claim that MMA is dying and this could be their new awakening.
It is difficult to gauge whether the BKFC would gain significant traction in America. Promotions and debut shows are sure to be entertaining, to say the least, but is it the next big thing? Only time will tell.
The brutal nature of the sport marked with a roster filled with criminals and old legends would take an old-school mindset to ingest and enjoy the show, but the modern wave of political correctness and SJW culture could definitely contribute to its undoing.
Some years ago, UFC co-founder Art Davie tried to sell the XARM, a supposed fusion of MMA and arm wrestling, to combat fans. He asserted that XARM would be the next big thing as it had the raw action that the people truly wanted, free of a hundred rules or restrictions.
“When I created the UFC, the boxing community, and martial artists from karate to taekwondo said it was too brutal, and a freak show… a unicorn sport” Davie once said on his blog, which was deleted years ago.
“Now some in MMA are taking shots at my new sport, XARM, saying it’s too extreme. Oh, how history repeats itself! What XARM does is take the best three minutes of any MMA fight, removes the ground game, and gives fans what they want — raw, uncensored, nonstop action! Get off the ground and step up to the table!”
Former boxer David Feldman, who is the president of the BKFC, says on his company's website that his promotion will usher in “a new era in combat sports,” and crown “the best pure striker on the planet.”
We certainly hope that the bare-fisted format makes it huge in the States and while we want to believe the hype, we're concernedly wary of its future. That being said, some of the fighters who are preparing for their bare-knuckle debut would definitely put a smile across your face. One of them is Reggie Barnett Jr. who on Saturday in Cheyenne, Wyoming, will fight on the first state-sanctioned bare-knuckle boxing card in the U.S. since the days of John L. Sullivan.
“Not everybody is built for it,” Barnett says. “But me? I don’t mind. Bloody lip? Busted nose? My nose is crooked. It’s been broken many a time. You just fight through it. I feed off that.
“If you hit me as hard as you can and you didn’t knock me down or knock me out? It’s a wrap.”
Barnett says he's born to do it.