Bare Knuckle Brawls in the Bay
Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship 6 (BKFC6) puts on a barn-burning show as the MMA and Boxing worlds collided as Tampa got to be the center of the combat sports universe for a night.
Under the rings lights of ‘Expo Hall’ at the Florida Fair Grounds, a lively crowd filled in early; some of whom weren’t quite sure what they would be in store for tonight. Many knew they were there for a ‘combat sports’ of some sort but many were still just figuring out the fighters would not have gloves on or couldn’t kick one another. All of the confusion quickly dissipated as soon as the fights got underway as the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship showed they are able to continue to put out an entertaining and interesting niche product for the combat sports audience.
There were a few hiccups, of course, as new promotions tend to have: the card started a little later than expected, the tv camera work by Fite Tv was a little dizzying at times but overall they got a lot more right than they got wrong. The BKFC undercard fights delivered with multiple knockouts and exciting exchanges, getting the crowd ready for the main fights on the card.
The main fights picked up where the undercards left off as the BKFC crowned its first-ever lightweight champion: Johnny Bedford after a scintillating performance against Reggie Barnett Jr. The men had a heated exchange at the weigh-ins and went after in their championship bout but Bedford clearly got the better of the two when they traded blows. Bedford floored Barnett Jr three times on his way to winning a unanimous decision and taking home the first ever BKFC Lightweight title.
After a tremendous title fight, Chris Leben and Dakota Cochrane went at it for 5 straight rounds. Most fans and media did not see this one going past a couple of rounds but both men stood tall in the pocket trading blows that ended in a decision victory and mild upset for Dakota Cochrane. Cohcrane weathered an early storm from Leben who put up a valiant effort but couldn’t impose his will on the smaller Cochrane. The crowd showed love to Leben’s tremendous effort and to both men for an entertaining scrap.
The main event between Paulie Malignaggi and Artem Lobov had all the combat sports eyes on it to see if an average MMA fighter (Lobov) could hang with a world-class former champion (Malignaggi) in a bare-knuckle boxing fight. Most experts and fans (including me) thought Malignaggi would overwhelm Lobov with his superior boxing skills but we were all shockingly wrong. Malignaggi looked gun shy in the ring after getting clipped by a few looping shots of Lobov in the first round. Malignaggi was clearly the faster fighter but he never let his hands go. Lobov swung wildly, missed alot but also connected the hardest shots of the night against Malignaggi’s dome. I don’t know if Malinaggi just didn’t trust his hands or wanted to save face after getting knocked off balance in the 3rd rond but he was largely in a defensive posture thru rounds 4 and 5 sealing the victory for Lobov. Lobov won via a deserving unanimous decision 48-47.
In the post-fight presser: Lobov was respectful in the after the fight citing that he “understood Paulie’s antics were part of the promotion of the fight”. Lobov said “he held no ill will towards Malignaggi & that despite all of the smack talk, Malignaggi showed up to fight and he respected that”.
Malignaggi was also respectful of Lobov in the post-fight presser after slapping and spitting on him in the lead up to the fight. He granted that he was “a little slow getting his feet under him in the first round”. However, he also tried to claim “he was only hit by one clean punch and only a few grazing shots” which his cut up face would beg to differ. Malignaggi couldn’t help himself in criticizing the judges and fans of MMA for why he got a raw deal on the scorecards. In the end, he stated this would be his “only time in the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship” and did not see himself competing again in the sport. Overall the fans got a surprsing ending to a fun night of cards.
It was a huge night for the promotion as they put on a card that any promotion boxing or MMA would have been proud to be a part of. If the ‘sport’ of Bare Knuckle Boxing is going to have a resurgence and long term future in the U.S., the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship is going to be a big reason why.
Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship Prediction Record 1-2-0
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