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The Niche that is Bare Knuckle Boxing



A post shared by Artem Lobov (@rushammer) on Jun 23, 2019 at 1:09am PDT

This past year has seen the rise of a promising combat sport which in essence is a way to connect the radical and well-known fight entertainment. Bare knuckle fighting takes boxing and mixes it with the excitement of MMA. It’s what might happen if your crazy uncle, that coworker that has a lot of bar fight stories and that muscular guy at the gym that offers “supplements” were to start their own fight organization; but that’s in no way an insult. The Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship or BKFC has found itself filling a void that perhaps fans and critics didn’t realize existed. The scene is so precise that currently there are few news outlets to cover bare-knuckle fights and results.


pic.twitter.com/mCyoBD5vrB — Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) April 3, 2019

This past weekend in Tampa, Florida, a sanctioned bare-knuckle boxing event took place with the main event featuring between MMA fighter Artem Lobov and former professional boxer Paulie Malignaggi. Lobov’s unanimous decision victory after six rounds of fighting sent the MMA world into a frenzy. Many fight fans took to Internet forums and social media to brag, berate and point out the massive cut above Malignaggi’s eye after the fight. The fight was highly anticipated due to the drama that stemmed out of Conor McGregor’s fight camp while preparing to fight Floyd Mayweather. After sparring footage of McGregor getting the better of Malignaggi leaked, there has been verbal back-and-forth the former boxer and members of McGregor’s camp, including Artem Lobov. After a long series of events, the match between Lobov and Malignaggi was set; effectively creating the first grudge match for modern bare-knuckle boxing.


pic.twitter.com/joiiGUTUo2 — Mace Martinez (@macemartinez88) July 3, 2019

Malignaggi mostly lost due to falling back on his pure boxing pedigree and not fully adjusting to the mentality of that bare-knuckle boxing adopts. Boxing prides itself on the mentality of landing hits and not getting hit. While bare-knuckle boxing adopts the mentality of Muay Thai or MMA in that it’s about how damage one can inflict while minimizing the damage being taken. Those phrases seem the same but in actuality, they’re different. The judging of matches is a reflection of such differences.


pic.twitter.com/O6LnFwVGfl — Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) April 3, 2019


Boxing usually accounts for clean (not blocked or deflected) punches. Muay Thai and mixed martial arts like to give credit to significant strikes, fighters that push the pace and people who consistently have a dominant position. It makes sense that there are fighters in the BKFC that are former MMA fighters such as Bec Rawlings, Chris Leben, Charles Bennett, and Joey Beltran. The sport itself is a display of the aspect that many kickboxers like to call “dirty boxing.” The gritty clinching and close range fighting are aspects that many kickboxers are able to transition to.


pic.twitter.com/zBcdYKcoIg — Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) April 3, 2019

Bare knuckle fighting finds the sweet spot between fight sports in that it removes the intricacies of boxing and the complexities of MMA. Different styles add unpredictability in that moves can come where most people do not expect. But most people don’t study some of these other fighting styles which can give casual fans difficulty with understanding strategies or why certain fights end in certain ways. Bare knuckle fighting is in that highly desirable position where a regular person can enjoy it without needing to learn the rules first. A very straight forward form of boxing. In other words, boxing made more accessible to the average person. But that’s in no way an insult to the sport. It’s a set of rules that encourage pressing the action.


pic.twitter.com/zeMQmKdCPB — Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) April 3, 2019

Once again, it mixes the simplicity of boxing and the excitement of mixed martial arts. With the sport at its infancy, it’s following a learning curve to perfect itself and gain traction. But the path has already been paved by the trial and tribulations of MMA being introduced to the United States. This includes legalities and regulations that help get events sanctions in various states. But for now, the Lobov/Malignaggi fight will hopefully gain more attention and attract more competitors. ■


pic.twitter.com/7B9fqaNiAc — Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) April 3, 2019
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