The surprise sensation of this week’s combat sports offerings appears to be the first major bare knuckle boxing fight card sanctioned by an official US state athletic commission in over a century (a 2011 match between Rich Stewart and Bobby Gunn took place on the Yavapai Nation reservation). Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship (BKFC) put on their debut card this weekend, in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
The event was packed with familiar names from the MMA world, including Ricco Rodriguez, Joey Beltran, Tony Lopez, and recent UFC flyweight competitor Bec Rawlings. Rawlings spoke to MMA Fighting after the event, and gave her breakdown on the differences between fighting with and without gloves.
“I think it was the excitement of the unknown, for me,” Rawlings replied when asked what brought her to the sport. “I’m a weirdo like that. I enjoy just doing weird shit, like, that I don’t know what’s going to happen. I get an adrenaline rush over that. So, that kind of aspect was awesome to me. But, just to go out there and just box and just lay my hands on her. It just felt really good.
“I feel like MMA, you’re just a little bit more cautious because of takedowns, kicks. I really felt like I got out there and just let my hands go.”
“I have this argument with my boyfriend a lot,” Rawlings continued, when asked if bare knuckle boxing was more ‘boxing’ or ‘fighting.’ “Boxing is like a match, it’s a match. That was like a mixture between a match and a fight. That was, like, we were fighting, but we were technical, there was strategy to it, there was precision. It was a fight though, that’s for sure.”
“To get hit by bare knuckles felt the same as MMA gloves. For me to hit her? I did feel my hands a little bit. I was like, ‘Ooh, that feels different! That’s weird.’ And my hands are a little bit swollen, which they’re not normally after MMA. But, to be here and to throw them? It was kind of the same as MMA. You just don’t want to hit the top of the head, because that’s when you’re going to hurt yourself.”
Rawlings defeated her opponent, Alma Garcia via TKO at the end of Round 2, when Garcia didn’t answer the bell for the third round. And if the Aussie training out of Alliance MMA had hoped to show off a more technical game in the ring, without the threat of being taken down, it appears she was successful. ‘Rowdy’ Bec drew praise from none other than former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion Conor McGregor for her punching form in the win.
“Some great shots. Photo and fist,” McGregor replied to an Instagram post by Esther Lin, from the event. “Thumb positioned perfectly for bare fist shot. Zero damage to the paws taken. Great work Bec.”
No news yet on when BKFC will hold their next event, but when they do, it sounds like Rawlings will want to be on it. “This is just the beginning and that was such an amazing event. And obviously the outcome was perfect for me. So, yeah I’d do it again. Hell yeah.”